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I feel like the world’s biggest stress-eater sometimes. I love food and it’s just so comforting.
There have been times in my life where I’ve been so stressed out that I find myself spoon deep into the peanut butter jar at 2am. There have been times where I came home from work, where I wasn’t even hungry but couldn’t stop eating popcorn or chips until the bag was empty. There have been times where I would have such anxiety over choosing a healthy meal while out to eat, choosing something that didn’t fill or satisfy me, only to come home and eat my heart out in private. And there have been times when I’m stuck at home, bored, with contemplating what the fuck I’m doing with my life and all I can honestly think about is the cookies and ice cream hanging out in the kitchen.
And I know how common these feelings are because I hear it from most of my client.
So if you’re reading this right now thinking “omg this is me!” You are not alone my friend. Finding comfort in food during stressful times is very very normal but we all know that over-eating regularly can also negatively affect your health and your waistline.
So I want to give you 10 ways to prevent stress eating – especially now with the covid pandemic and the protests and the murder hornets and the 2020 elections and what ever the hell else is stressing you out to the max.
- First and foremost is to identify the problem, issue, or source of anxiety. You have to understand why it’s happening in the first place. Sometimes finding the source of stress isn’t exactly clear so it might be helpful to keep a journal of the times that you find yourself stress eating and see if there is a pattern. Is it every time you check your bank account? Is it when your kid is sick? Is it when you workout too hard? Stress comes in many forms and none of them are wrong.
- Next, Either solve the problem OR if you can’t solve the problem, you have to either avoid the issue or somehow get around it. This is obviously the hard part but back to my examples for before…. obviously can’t solve the pandemic or the world’s problems but what I can do is avoid it before it puts me in a bad mood. So I’ve stopped following accounts that make me feel a certain way and I haven’t been using social media as much and if I do, I try not to scroll. It’s helped my mood (and therefore my need to snack) immensely.
- Remove temptation. My boyfriend likes to leave bread and cookies on the counter and he’s real good about not over-indulging but not me. Just one look at those things and it’s all I want to eat for the rest of the day. For example. There is a cookie and a half sitting on the counter. I saw it when I got my coffee this morning and I wanted it. I saw it before I went for a run and I wanted it. I saw it after my workout as I was fixing myself some protein pancakes and I still wanted it. I had to remind myself 3 times not to open the baggie and then I ended up putting chocolate chips in my pancakes so that I could feel satisfied without eating the cookie. After that, I had a nice talk with my boyfriend and asked him nicely to put them away or up high so that I wouldn’t eat them. And just by getting them out of sight was all I needed to stop thinking about them. And sometimes putting it out of sight isn’t enough – sometimes I need to do a kitchen clean out where I remove everything that would throw me off track. If that’s what it takes to succeed, just do it girl. (To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a tasty treat occasionally, even when you’re not necessarily hungry. However, overindulging too often can harm both your physical and mental health.)
- Stay hydrated and well-fed. Sometimes our bodies feel stress when they aren’t getting enough which triggers an emotional response towards food. If we give our bodies what we need – like food and water – our bodies will be happy and therefore will not trigger stress eating. At one point, my body was super stressed from the overtraining and underrating that my hypothalamus stopped communicating with my ovaries to ovulate and therefore I wasn’t getting a period. There wasn’t an external factor that was causing mental stress but my physiological body was stressed and that lead me to have uncontrollable binges. So eating and drinking enough water will keep your body content.
- Be active. Working out and moving is a huge stress-relief and an excellent outlet. For me, It also feels good to lift heavy and get my frustrations out on the weights. On the flip side, exercising too much can put more stress on the body so make sure you’re not over-doing it either.
- Plan ahead. If you know you’re stressed and if you know when you’re stressed you typically crave something, why not plan to have a portion of that something so that you satisfy that craving while not over doing it? Much easier said than done but it’s definitely possible. The way I do this is by counting macros and making what ever it is I k now I’m going to want, to fit my macros for that day. For example. I always want chocolate when I’m PMSing. Instead of restricting hard and then binging on all the ice cream in the world. I put to have a square or so of dark chocolate at night after dinner so that I satisfy that craving without over-doing it. I make up for it by having a little less carbs at dinner so that I still meet my macros for the day. This also goes for meal times too. I know that when I’m stressed out – I tend to want more snacks meals rather than when I’m busy I rather have 3 large meals. So instead of making myself fit into 4 meals a day when I’m stressing over shit, I’ll plan for more frequent meals – cause otherwise I’m going to fall off anyway….
- …I guess in a sense #7 would then be Know who you are and your patterns. Because I know some of my clients who don’t eat when they are stressed and that means they shouldn’t plan more frequent meals but instead larger and less frequent meals.
- Be mindful of alcohol intake. I’m not a big drinker – anymore. I was once but not so much now. But there are times where I just need something to take the edge off! My boyfriend knows by now that something must be really wrong if I pour myself a drink and we are not on vacation or celebrating something. And in those times, it’s really easy to pour myself a second or third drink. But what I find is that I’m more likely to over-eat when I’m drinking as well. So not only do I get the empty calories from the drink, but get the extra calories for the things I might not have eaten had I been sober. So i’m not saying don’t have the alcohol – because sometimes it is a really good stress-reliever – I’m saying limit yourself to only what will take the edge off and nothing more.
- Practice self-care. Do things that make you feel good! I love getting massages and reading a good book that helps me escape my own thoughts – especially while getting some sun and sipping on a sparkling water. BUT I get that sometimes this isn’t easy. How can you relax when it feels like the world is crashing down around you? But sometimes you just need to get out of your head and escape for a little while and when you come back it might be really all you needed to face the bullshit head on again.
- Have accountability. I’m guessing all the things I said above are really no surprise to you. Everything makes sense and deep down inside, you know these things are right but knowing they are right and doing them are two different things. It’s easy to forget them or ignore them in the heat of it all and you look back and you’re like damnit I should have done XYZ. But the difference between knowing it and doing it is having that accountability and support. I see this from my clients all the time. Most of us know what we should be doing, but we don’t always do it until either someone is watching over our every move or we’re paying for it – that’s why it’s so easy to eat in private when you’re stressed out – it’s because nobody’s watching. But once somebody is watching, it all changes, you hold yourself to a higher standard. So whether you have a coach, a therapist, or a real friend who’s not gonna let you get away with your bullshit, to be there for you, I suggest you have someone or something holding you accountable because… i’m gonna give you a bit of tough love here but… if you haven’t figured it out on your own yet, you probably won’t figure it out on your own. Getting help isn’t a bad thing. I’ve struggled with this for a long time too but every time I get help, its always worth it
And with that being said, getting over emotional eating is one of the very many things I help my one on one petite clients do.
And I’m not talking about the clinically diagnosed binge eating, but the every day average woman who is just sick of resorting to food when shit hits the fan.
It lights me up to not only see these clients slim down and build muscle but to watch her strengthen her relationship with food, decrease negative self-talk, and learn to really listen to her body.
If you’re under 5’3” and ready to get this whole eating thing under control, I’d love to help you get there in my funsized 1:1 coaching program.