Stress eating is a common problem that can keep you locked in a vicious cycle: you feel stressed so you overeat, which makes you feel even more stressed, which makes you eat more . . . You can go on like that for years, not knowing how to break free.
When you decide to start a diet or weight loss plan, it’s necessary to break the cycle of stress eating – or completely eliminate stress from your life, which probably isn’t going to happen.
How can you break the cycle? You may be so used to eating in response to stress that you don’t know any other way to deal with it. Starting a diet can then make you feel very frustrated and confused.
Luckily, breaking the cycle of stress eating only requires you to learn some new coping techniques that you can fall back on instead of reaching for food.
Here are a few good ones to get you started:
Vent to others or vent privately, but spill out all of your negative thoughts and feelings instead of trying to smother them with food. You can vent in writing, or out loud, or just go through it all mentally, but expressing your stress in a conscious, deliberate way is important.
– Get Support
Call a friend and tell them that you’re struggling and you’re tempted to eat because of stress. He or she can likely sympathize and help talk you through it. (Note: choose your support partner carefully; make sure it’s someone who is usually supportive and encouraging.)
– Burn it Off
Physical activity is a fantastic way to purge stress from your mind and body! Go for a brisk walk, or pile up some cushions on the living room floor and punch the daylights out of them. Alternatively you could go on an energetic cleaning spree, or do some rigorous yard work. Just get moving and allow all of your stressful feelings to flow out through physical movement. Within minutes you’ll feel lighter, clearer and calmer.
– Release It
Another technique that works really well is purposely deciding to release the stress so it doesn’t continue to eat away at you. Spend a few minutes thinking about why you feel stressed, and then imagine putting all that angst into a big balloon and letting it float away. If the stressful feelings come back again later, repeat the same exercise. Over time you’ll get better and better at releasing stress rather than letting it build up inside of you.
– Find the Bright Side
Stress is overwhelming because it keeps you firmly focused on the negative side of a given situation. Turn that around by purposely focusing on the bright side of the same situation. For example, if your boss is really demanding and makes you feel unappreciated, spend a few minutes admiring his or her creativity, or being thankful that he or she is flexible about the hours you work. There is almost always a bright side to every situation, no matter how dark it may seem at first glance.
When you get into the habit of using these stress-relieving techniques, you no longer need to rely on food to suppress your stressful feelings and you are able to lose weight much more easily.