Eating unhealthy foods when stressed is not effective in the long run.

Stress eating and binge eating might temporarily reduce stress, but they usually cause more harm than good in the long run.

Here are some tips on how to beat stress eating:

When Planning to Quit Stress Eating

1. Practise Introspection

Identify what exactly is causing you stress and anxiety. Is it conflict with your boss or a partner? Are you rushing for a tight deadline?

Knowing what triggers an episode of stress eating will help you to avoid or find a solution for it in the future. Commit to a solution that works for you and keep at it.

2. Seek Support From Your Family and Friends

Confiding in your friends and family can help you through a tough situation and better handle the effects of stress. Remember to add that you’re trying to quit stress eating. Allow them to remind you and support you.

Related: Your Beat Stress Guide

When Quitting

Consider cut fruits in a cup when you feel hungry and stressed.

3. Be Mindful of What You Eat

Consider starting a food diary. The Healthy 365 app is a great way to track your daily food and drinks intake and the corresponding calories consumed. Monitoring yourself is a good way to assess if you are eating out of hunger or stress and avoid mindless eating.

It also helps you take a hunger reality check: every time you find yourself rummaging through the pantry, ask yourself if you are really hungry. If you’ve just eaten a full meal not too long ago, chances are, you aren’t.

4. Remove Temptation and Choose Healthier Snacks

Avoid keeping unhealthy food around. If you must snack, opt for healthier choices such as nuts and fruits to avoid excessive weight gain.

5. Find New Ways to Relieve Stress

Try experimenting with different ways to relieve stress instead of stress eating. Here are some stress relaxation techniques:

  • Take a walk or get a breather outdoors. When you feel overwhelmed, physically removing yourself from the stressful situation is a good way to relax. As you walk, focus on your breathing and take deep breaths to calm your mind.
  • Watch a funny video, read a joke, or engage in anything that makes you laugh. Laughing can help relieve tension and stress as it releases endorphins — which help to counteract stress — into the body.

Additionally, exercise. Exercises such as running or swimming help us with weight loss and also increase endorphins in the body. Yoga and Tai Chi combine both exercise and meditation and are helpful in combating stress as well as maintaining a healthy weight.

Related: Take It Outdoors to Unwind

When You Stumble

6. Learn from Setbacks for Better Mental Health

Breaking the habit of stress eating is not easy. Don’t be too hard on yourself if and when you do slip up. Recognise your relapse triggers and avoid them in the future.

When You Succeed

7. Reward yourself

Reward yourself with a small treat when you do manage to stop emotional stress-eating. Just remember to avoid comfort eating as a treat and engage in something healthy or meaningful instead.

Download the HealthHub app on Google Play or Apple Store to access more health and wellness advice at your fingertips.


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References

  1. Harvard Health Publishing. (Feb 2012). Why stress causes people to overeat. [Website]
    Retrieved February 2017 from http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/why-stress-causes-people-to-overeat
  2. Breeze, J. (n.d.). Can Stress Cause Weight Gain? [Website]
    Retrieved January 2017 from http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/stress-weight-gain#1
  3. (n.d.). How to Stop Emotional Eating. [Website]
    Retrieved January 2017 from http://www.webmd.com/diet/stop-emotional-eating
  4. Kromberg, J. (2013, Sep 18). Emotional Eating? 5 Reasons You Can’t Stop. Psychology Today.
    Retrieved January 2017 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/inside-out/201309/emotional-eating-5-reasons-you-can-t-stop
  5. Mayo Clinic. (2015, Oct 3). Tips to get your weight–loss efforts back on track [Website]
    Retrieved January 2017 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20047342?pg=2
  6. Pells, J. (n.d.). Anxiety & Overeating — What’s the Overlap? [Website]
    Retrieved February 2017 from https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/treatment-for-eating-disorders/co-occurring-dual-diagnosis/anxiety/anxiety-overeating-whats-the-overlap

Scott, J. R. (2016, Feb 17). What is Stress Eating? [Website]
Retrieved January 2017 from https://www.verywell.com/what-is-emotional-eating-3495967