Radical changes in how we live and increased uncertainty about the near future have added a lot of unwanted stress to our lives. And with everyone living at home now, we have 24/7 access to our refrigerators. This combination can lead to every healthy woman’s nightmare: stress eating. With no one to stop us, it’s easy to just hop up from our laptops and grab a quick little snack. But now more than ever is when we need to keep our health, mental and physical, a top priority. So here are four tips to help beat the need to stress eat:
Find the cause.
Do you find yourself eating during work meetings? When helping your kids with homework? When you feel alone? According to Harvard Health, women are more likely to turn to stress eating than men. Identifying your triggers and patterns can make you more mindful of them. If possible, you can avoid some triggers, or just being aware of what is stressing you out can help you prepare yourself for those moments, according to Weight Watchers. However, if stress eating is just one symptom or a larger problem, such as depression, anxiety, or addiction, your next best step is to seek professional help.
Find an alternative.
If you find yourself grabbing a Snickers when you feel a little stressed or bored, see if you can find another outlet for these emotions. Stress may mean that you just need a break from what you’re doing. Instead of eating, you could watch a cat video, take a quick walk, or throw your stress ball around your apartment. This is what it’s for. If you really feel the need to eat, try leveling up to something healthier. Instead of a Reese’s peanut butter cup, try apples and peanut butter. If you get out your anger through chewing, calm down with a couple of sticks of Spearmint gum.
Make it hard to find.
If the M&M’s are on your desk, you will probably eat more of them than if they are in a bag in the back of the pantry. Unless thinking about them being in the pantry drives you so crazy that you go and down the whole bag at 3 pm. Another solution could be to not let the temptation into the house in the first place. If you do the shopping when you’re less stressed or can have someone else shop for you with strict guidelines against junk food, then the next time you reach for your gummy worms… nothing will be there.
Make a schedule.
Instead of constantly asking yourself, “Should I eat now?” make yourself some concrete rules to follow. Save yourself some decision power and set aside times just for eating, and let your brain forget about food until those times roll around. Now you can look forward to food time instead of always feeling slightly guilty about them. Adding a little structure to your life could be a stress reducer in itself, too, hitting this unhealthy habit with a double whammy.
Health & Wellness How to Outsmart Stress-Eating
Healthline Prevent Stress Eating
Harvard Health Stress and Eating
MedicalNewsToday How do I stop stress eating?