“My boss is so unfair!”
Renee opens her desk drawer and reaches for the chocolates. Renee is about to engage in stress eating.
All kinds of emotions prompt us to open the freezer, grab the pint of ice cream and eat! Eating when stressed or when we need to relax or calm down is a bad habit. But we do it.
The problem with stress eating is that we feel guilty later and tend to gain weight. It is a habit most of us would like to break.
One solution is to practice better ways to reduce stress. Here are 7 tips to help break stress eating:
1. Pay attention to the signs of stress: irritability, poor concentration, lack of sleep, etc. Those are different than real hunger and eating will only make you feel good for the moment. In the long run, it doesn’t do anything to help stress.
2. Make a list of a number of ways to de-stress when you are not feeling stressed. When stress hits, choose one of the de-stressors. For example, take a hot bath, listen to relaxing music, pray, engage in deep breathing, massage your shoulders or head, read a book, etc.
3. Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals makes it easier to binge or stress eat.
4. Practice self-care when stressed–get enough sleep, exercise and talk out your problems with a trusted fiend. Don’t turn to food. Turn to the Bible or to prayer. Make your requests known to God.
5. Remove the source of stress when you can. Sometimes, the best strategy is to eliminate stress. For example, if your are stressed because you have too much to do, eliminate a project or say NO to the next request.
6. Don’t keep stress treats in your house. If food is available, in sight and only a cupboard away, the temptation is to eat. So eliminate the tempting foods. Stock up on veggies when you have the urge to munch!
7. If you are really stressed and want to eat, eat a small amount of a treat, not the whole thing. Researcher Linda Bacon (yes, that is her name) found that you really only enjoy a few bites of food. After that, your taste buds lose their sensitivity to the chemicals in that food. So eat a few bites slowly and mindfully, and then put the rest away or share with someone else.
Overall, the goal is to stop reaching for food out of emotional need. This means you must press pause and become more intentional.