Scroll through your Facebook feed and you'll quickly find plenty of people who are struggling with the cycle of stress eating. We've all had those days where everything is going wrong, and we’re tempted to grab a bag of chips or ice cream for comfort. But doing so often leads to a vicious cycle that only makes things worse. It can be tough to break out of this rut, but it doesn't have to be! In this article, we'll discuss how you can mentally stop the stress eating cycle by practising mindful self-care. Then, we'll explore the psychology of stress eating and why it starts in the first place.
How do you know if you're too stressed to stop the cycle?
But wait... before we get into stopping the cycle, you may be wondering how you can tell if what you're feeling is actually stress eating. The good news is there are specific signs to look out for: If you're trying to eat your feelings by reaching for junk food or alcohol, it's a sign that your stress levels are too high. Stress is also often associated with weight gain because people will often try to cope with their problems by tightening their belt and restricting caloric intake.
If you're constantly reaching for food and you're typically a healthy eater, then maybe it's not stress that's driving your unhealthy eating pattern. Instead, it could be an emotional issue or some other type of stress that is making you feel the need to chow down on whatever is in front of you. But if this pattern has been going on for more than a few weeks and is not triggered by daily life events, don't worry! You can still break the cycle by exercising self-control.
How can you stop the stress eating cycle?
By practising self-care, you'll help yourself combat these stressful feelings. Self-care is the act of taking care of your own mental and physical well-being. When you're feeling stressed and don't know what to do, it's essential that you practise self-care so that you can reach a better state of mind. Let's talk about some different ways that you can practise self-care when stress eating hits:
1) Take a walk.
When you're feeling stressed out, go for a walk. Many people find that walking helps clear their mind and relieve stress; it also gets you off your chair, which means you're less likely to eat while sitting in front of the TV or computer. Take your dog (or download an app that simulates one) for a walk if no one else is available to do so. The goal is to get up from the sofa and put some physical energy into your body. It will help clear your mind so that you can think things through more clearly.
2) Write down your stress.
If the stress eating cycle is a constant problem, it's probably because you have a lot of unresolved feelings. Sometimes we bury our feelings deep inside of ourselves without addressing them directly, but that can lead to bigger problems in the future. Writing down your stress helps you process those thoughts and feelings more easily, which leads to better decisions and improved self-care in the future.
3) Enlist a friend for support.
Stress eating is often a social problem. We'll talk more about this in the psychology section, but for now, let's say that you're stressed out by something going on at work and you eat a whole bag of chips in one sitting. It's easy to tell yourself it will never happen again or that you'll use your willpower next time... But then it happens again! When these stress eating episodes happen over and over again, it's because you're using food to deal with your negative emotions instead of facing them head on.
4) Make a list of your triggers.
You may know that you're stressed, but you may not know what triggers it. If you're stressed out by your job, and you go home and eat a whole bag of chips, it could be because the chips are on sale at the grocery store. Or maybe your coworker is having a rough day and she's also been eating junk food. Better to know when stuff happens so that you can prepare yourself with self-care activities in advance!
5) Do something for yourself that lets you reset for the next day.
When you're constantly stressed, it's easy to eat foods that are rich in fat, sugar, and salt because your body gets used to having these things around. This is why stress eating tends to run in cycles - it's because everyone has different triggers and we often get stuck in a comfort food routine. The good news is that you can change this by changing what you eat. Go out for a nice dinner with friends every now and then, or take one day off from cooking meals at home so that you can try new recipes.
6) Take a bath.
As mentioned in the opening, stress can cause us to be tempted to reach for junk food or alcohol. Sometimes just having a glass of wine or beer can help you unwind and de-stress by releasing some endorphins. The problem is that these substances are often triggers for people who struggle with stress eating and emotional eating; they're quick fixes that may lead to long-term problems if used too frequently.
7) Focus on your mental well-being.
While reading this article, you might find yourself becoming stressed out about your own issues! That's okay - being aware of your stress is a crucial first step in the process of changing it. But it's also important to learn how to deal with stress so that you don't end up obsessing about little things that shouldn't be affecting you. Take a few minutes to get yourself together and read this blog post, or listen to a relaxing podcast if you want. Then practise self-care again the next time your stress eating cycle happens.
8) Have a good meal before you go out.
When we're stressed, we often reach for high-calorie foods because our body needs fuel more than usual. This is why it's important to eat a well-balanced meal before going out to a crowded bar or nightclub. If you're stressed , you won't want to be around people who are eating junk food - they'll influence you and make you want to binge on unhealthy foods!
Stress eating is a serious problem that can result in weight gain and other health issues if left untreated. Practising self-care, as mentioned above, will help you combat your stress eating symptoms. But why do we eat when we're stressed? The answer is that stress can make it difficult to control your eating habits, especially when you're feeling emotional or emotional eating becomes a trigger. In order to take charge of your stress-eating habit, you'll need to practise self-care regularly, and pick up a copy of our book - "Mindful Eating for Stress Eaters" - so that you can learn the skills of mindful eating.