Related Topics: anxiety, Features, stress, Weight Loss

How to Stop Emotional Eating From Stress

Stress affects all functions in the body and so weight is no exception.

AnnA Rushton

Stress will impact your health in so many ways, from your physical or emotional and mental well-being. Unfortunately for many others stress can trigger unhealthy patterns such as overeating or choosing the sort of comfort foods that will add to our weight gain.

We must eat to survive, but over time, we’ve found pleasure in our food choices. Eating during times of stress can help ease emotions whether that is grief, anger, loneliness or anxiety.

But the binge-guilt-binge cycle that can follow gets in the way of our efforts to eat healthily. Here are some tips and tricks to help you stop “eating your feelings.”

 Be aware

Some people eat less when they’re under stress. but others need the distraction of comfort food  when things aren’t going right. Because the effect is temporary, you may find yourself eating when you’re not hungry, or without thinking about it.

That can lead to unhealthy decisions. So always be aware of what you’re eating and why you’re eating it, it’s about being present and mindful around your food choices.

Write it down!

Write down everything you eat during the day. and also note what time you ate it and where you were when you did.

A food diary is a great tool to help you track your habits and patterns and whether you keep a note on your phone, or in a notebook, it will prove invaluable in helping you see exactly what your problem area with food is.

For example: Are you snacking between meals or is food a constant companion? You’ll start to see how healthy — or unhealthy — your food choices are and it will help you set goals that can really help.

Are you really hungry

If you just ate a big meal and are still reaching for snacks, ask yourself: Are you hungry, or are your emotions causing the cravings?

I have to hold my hand up for this one as I eat when I am bored so I have found I need to do something different until the urge passes. Action is best for me such as taking a walk or calling a friend.

Also sometimes it is simple as needing drink water if your body is trying to tell you it’s dehydrated.

Reach out

Make sure you have support from family and friends who can keep you positive and focused in times of stress as that can really help you stick to a healthy lifestyle.

Research shows that people with high-stress jobs have better mental health when they have strong support networks.

Stay focused  

If you have set healthy weight loss goals try not to get too hung up on things like calorie counts, menu planning, and watching the scales.

It might make you lose track of the lifestyle changes you’re after and in fact, being stuck in a food rut can lead to more cravings. Don’t be afraid to try new foods, or different ways of preparing old favourites.

Make sure to reward yourself with a healthy treat if you reach a key goal.

Avoid temptation

Remove the urge to snack on unhealthy foods by keeping them out of your store cupboards and fridge.

Worried about making bad choices when you shop? Stick to a strict grocery list of healthy foods, and never go shopping when you’re hungry or in a bad mood.

Make healthy choices

Have an abundant supply of good-for-you things to snack on if you get hungry between meals. Things like fruit, vegetables with a low-fat dip, nuts, or even unbuttered popcorn are perfect. Or try low-fat versions of the foods you already enjoy.

Don’t be hard on yourself

We can all certainly be self-critical, but it really is not helpful.Don’t obsess over your failures but instead, learn from your mistakes.

Don’t let one or two slips create more stress. Instead, focus on the big picture and recognize how you can break your stress-eating cycle.


If you’re craving pizza, try putting tomato sauce, vegetables, and low-fat mozzarella on pita bread. If you have a sweet tooth, try “fun size” versions of the real thing or mini ice cream bars as a substitute.

You’ll still get the pleasure of your favourite foods without wrecking your diet.


When the urge to eat hits you, try some relaxation techniques. Mindful meditation can ease stress and help fight the impulse that triggers stress eating.

Choose a quiet place to sit and observe your thoughts and your breathing. Don’t judge how you feel, just notice what you’re thinking and ease your focus back to your breathing.

If you find it helps use some relaxing music, YouTube is a great resource for meditation sounds, experiment to find what works for you.


A good workout triggers your body to make chemicals called endorphins that interact with your brain to calm and relax you. What’s more, it’ll make you feel good about yourself.

Worried about wear and tear on your body? Try yoga or tai chi. They’re both low-impact ways to work out.


Don’t be afraid to discuss your eating habits with your doctor or a nutritionist or therapist or a supportive friend. They may be able to provide support and tips to help you identify what’s causing your stress.

They can also give you ideas on how to make better food choices and reach your healthy goals.

Helpful information: 

If you are dealing with stress and anxiety then you really need to tackle it in any way that helps you start feeling better about yourself. Some of these tips here could be helpful, but you might also want to look at your hormone balance as weight gain is associated with hormonal imbalance.

Oestrogen dominance, thyroid issues and high blood pressure are all common at Menopause and can certainly contribute to weight gain.  Check that you have got hormone balance under control and that will be a great step forward in dealing with the other factors related to weight gain.

5 Mindfulness Ways To De-Stress

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