She said, “I honestly don’t have time for myself right now but realize if I don’t do something differently, I’ll regret it later.”
My client, Sally, maintains a daily lifestyle pace that leaves her physically and emotionally drained and with no time to prepare healthy meals or relax.
Her heightened sense of anxiety and relentless pace is causing her to use food to fill the empty spaces in her life, and her self care comes in the form of chocolate.
- Does this sound like a familiar pattern to you?
- Is stress eating getting you down?
Then it’s time you learned how to manage stress eating.
The Overeating Trap
Being a busy woman, you often fall into an overeating trap because you can’t find the time, or you may feel guilty taking the time out of your day, to take care for you.
So your self-care is usually a 3pm muffin or chocolate, your stress relief is comfort food and your reward is some special dessert after an exhausting day of work.
You may feel like you are losing control of your life and you are reacting rather than rationalizing.
This adds even more stress and overwhelm to what seems like an overwhelming schedule already.
This leads you to eat to escape and to calm your emotions.
And you are exhausted in the evenings to do all the things you planned to do for healthy eating.
You don’t have time for you.
When your spirit isn’t being fed, you eat more.
Let’s dive in and explore further by first looking at what emotional eating is all about and then looking at the characteristics and style of stress eating.
What is Emotional Eating?
Emotional eating is when you turn to food for stress relief, comfort, as a reward or to help you through an emotional upset. It helps you to ‘zone out’ and feel calmer, soothed or relieved in the moment.
If you’re an emotional eater, you may feel powerless over your food cravings and when the urge to eat hits, it’s all you can think about.
In my experience as an emotional eating coach, I’ve learned that:
- At least 90%of women use food to soothe their stress or emotions.
- For those women, “eating to zone out” usually escalates into something more serious.
What is stress eating?
It means simply that you’re busy and food is an easy “go to” strategy.
It’s usually caused by a multitude of things: a busy life, stress, and exhaustion, using food to fill in the voids or reward yourself, or eating for comfort.
Stress eating often happens because you feel too busy to plan meals or get the food that’s good for you – or you are simply too tired or busy to make the “right” choices.
And the choices you make while you are busy living your life start to add up.
Stress Eating characteristics
Stress eating usually shows up as:
- eating when you’re not hungry
- using food as a source of comfort when you’re feeling sad, anxious, or bored
- eating to cope with stress and frustration in areas of life that take time and effort to correct
- eating to ease the tension, because you can’t just snap your fingers and “fix it”.
What this really means is that you use food to help you calm your ever-taut nerves and pump up your enthusiasm and energy.
Here are some of the typical triggers for stress eating that you may struggle with:
- Too much on your plate
- Low energy
- Overwhelm – not enough time in the day
- No time for self care and fun
Your hidden trigger is feeling angry & resentful that everybody else gets to relax and have fun, while you are left with all the chores and responsibility.
Knowing your emotional eating style gives you a starting point to understanding what’s going on for you.
And the more you understand about yourself, the more you’re able to work with—instead of against—yourself.
Finding the cause of your stress eating and applying some ways to get OUT of that cycle will help you start eating with a sense of FREEDOM, self-confidence and empowerment.
Here’s how to do it, quickly and effectively.
The 7 Quickest & Easiest Ways to Manage Stress Eating
1. Be honest with your self about your feelings
This is the first and most important step I the process.
Getting to know your self and what you are feeling on a daily basis is beneficial in dealing with stress
- Check in with your self-daily, what are you feeling
- You may want to journal to keep track of your emotions
- You could try a mindset rest
2.Get organised & prepared for healthy eating
Part of healthy eating is making sure your environment is set up to support you. This means a bit of meal planning and preparation so you always have healthy food on hand.
Being organised and prepared puts you in control and allows you to be deliberate with your healthy food choices.
Here are a few questions to help you plan in advance so you can be organised in future
- When is your best planning day?
- When is your best shopping day?
- When is your best food prep day/s?
Plan your meals, including snacks so you don’t get caught out when hunger strikes
3.Healthy Nutrition to manage stress eating
It’s important that you eat a well-balanced and nutrient-dense diet.
Your nutritional status can make a big difference in how you handle stress.
To eliminate stressful foods from your diet avoid these:
- Sugar, in particular refined white sugar products.
- Processed and packaged foods
- Dairy and casein containing products
- Gluten containing products
- Take away and junk foods
- Soft drinks and energy drinks
- Caffeine (or keep to a minimum)
Start enjoying good nutrition by learning to eat intuitively and using your 5 senses: taste, smell, touch, look and hear
Stress eating is often a result of not being conscious of what or why you’re eating.
- happens when you have finished your meal and you continue picking when you are no longer hungry
- means eating whatever is in front to you just because its there, usually not because you are hungry
- Is sitting down, away from your work station and any other distractions when you have your meals
- Involves slowing down your breathing by taking a few deep breaths before you start eating
- Starts out slowly and is free of self-judgement
6. Move your body
It doesn’t matter how you move and what kind of exercise you do. What’s important is to be active and do something on a daily basis
- Regular movement is one of the best habits you can create to help you stay emotionally balanced.
7. Self Care
Taking care of your needs, rest and relaxation can help you become more resilient.
When your needs are being met you don’t need to feed your emotions!
Self-care could include:
Spend some quiet time daily in relaxation
- Whether you choose meditation, yoga or visualization its your choice
- You can make visualization part of your meditation and relaxation sessions.
- Spend some time each day visualizing yourself going about your day in a balanced and emotionally poised manner.
Learning to breathe deeply and regularly
- When you practice deep breathing it increases the tone of your parasympathetic nervous system.
- The parasympathetic nervous system is the part of your nervous system that promotes relaxation and aids in good digestion.
When you start feeding your needs and giving to you –you will feel calmer and better about your self and will no longer need to rely on food to feed your needs because they are being met.
Now over to you
How can you break out of stress eating and start eating with a sense of FREEDOM, self-confidence and empowerment.
There are so many different things you can do, for both acute and chronic stress, and to rewire your bad habits.
You just need to know WHAT those tools and strategies are, and HOW to actually implement them in your life.
If you would like help with breaking the chain of your stress eating so that you can get back in control, feel calm and confident than contact me for a 15-minute discussion.
It’s free. And it might change your life.
Emotional Eating Coach
BSc (Biomed), Cert IV (PT), Health and Wellness Coach (L3)
I coach women who want to put down their fork and pick up their life. If you want to end your struggles with excess weight, stress and self-belief, using your strengths and capabilities, book a free 15-minute mini-coaching session with me and I’ll show you how to transform your life.
Want some help getting your emotional eating under control?
Book a confidential enquiry with Irena.