Life is stressful. Day to day responsibilities require nearly all of our time and effort. When we are focused on our stress, we may experience a wide variety of emotions like anger, irritability, sadness and depression, loneliness and anxiety. For some of us, we can address these feelings for what they are, and take care of them. But for many of us, we turn to food for comfort.
Food can convey a sense of comfort, because we often associate food with happy and pleasant feelings. Treats like cake and ice cream may become more tempting when we’re feeling stressed or emotional because eating them may help us to reflect on a happier day or occasion. Treating our emotions with food is not always bad, but it can become an unfriendly habit leading to distracted eating and weight issues.
When we are focused on our stress, we may experience a wide variety of emotions like anger, irritability, sadness and depression, loneliness and anxiety.
Addressing stressors and identifying appropriate and individualized stress management techniques is a great way to nip stress and emotional eating in the bud. To start this process, make a list of stressors, or things that cause you to feel upset or emotional. For example:
1. Work responsibilities ————————–This makes me feel: stressed, irritable
2. Family relationships —————————This makes me feel: angry, depressed
3. Medical issues———————————–This makes me feel: depressed, worried
Once you’ve identified some of the stressors in your life, you can start listing redirection activities that help relieve your stress or emotions and that don’t involve food. Some of those activities may include:
• Taking a walk outside
• Reading a book
• Taking a warm bath or shower
• Talking with an old friend
• Writing in a journal
• Listening to music
After listing some of your personal coping mechanisms, plan how you can use these activities to address your stress or emotions. Keep this list in a place that you can easily find it when you’re starting to feel stressed or emotional. Reference it often and make connections between activities and sources of stress.
For example, if work responsibilities cause you to feel stressed and irritable, maybe taking a walk around the office or outside around the building for 10 minutes can be a source of stress relief. After completing a stress reducing activity, reassess yourself to see if you still feel hungry, and then eat if necessary.
Taking a walk around the office or outside around the building for 10 minutes can be a source of stress relief.
Redirecting your temptations to eat when feeling stressed or emotional can help you avoid eating when you’re not truly hungry, as well as help you become more in touch with your body’s signals of hunger. Avoiding stress and emotional eating, and meeting your true needs by addressing stress or other emotions, can be a great way to work towards healthier eating patterns, and ultimately a healthier weight.