3 Sure-Fire Ways to Stop Stress Eating
Food plays an important role in pretty much every culture.
And in the US, it often seems that the biggest role food plays is as stress-relief.
When we’re tired, sad, or upset about something, we eat. And then maybe we eat a little bit more for good measure.
Stress-Eating Starts When We’re Kids
It’s not hard to understand why we stress eat.
It makes us feel better.
Part of the reason it makes us feel better is because food causes the release of certain hormones in our body. But there’s something else.
If you think back to special occasions when you were a kid – the times when you were happiest or most excited – there were probably special food treats.
Did you get to eat cake on your birthday, for instance?
All of that psychological programming is hard to overcome. You had a lifetime to associate junk food with pleasure and, often, love.
So How Do You Stop Stress Eating?
Don’t get stressed.
True, except I can’t seem to follow that tip AT ALL in my own life.
However, to the degree that you can find ways to decrease the stress in your life, this is perhaps the most overlooked aspect of health.
When it comes to avoiding stress-eating, in particular, experts can give you all the advice in the world, but one of three things must happen:
1. You don’t get stressed. As you and I both know, this is not only hard, but probably impossible in an absolute sense. You’re going to get stressed from time to time, because life happens, and you can’t always maintain a healthy perspective.
2. You don’t have junk food available when you get stressed. Doing this won’t completely eliminate stress-eating, but it definitely cuts down on it, since making junk hard to get will discourage you even when you’re stressed. In other words, you’d make sure that at home, at the office, and anywhere else you spend a lot of time, you wouldn’t have easy access to junk food.
3. You create some sort of routine for when you’re stressed. When you get stressed currently, you probably have a routine that is subconscious. And that subconscious routine probably involves finding the nearest junk food and bingeing on it. However, if you could create a new routine (such as going to the gym, going for a walk, meditating, or really doing anything at all), then you could replace the stress-eating routine.
Stress-eating is a habit. That means that the only effective ways to curb it are to get rid of the cue (stress), to make the act harder, or to replace the routine. There are a variety of specific ways to accomplish those 3 things, but at least one of them has to happen to break the cycle.
In my experience, none of those 3 options are easy, but both I and many other people have had the most success with a combination of options 2 and 3. Obviously, I’m always trying to reduce the total amount of stress in my life, but the quickest and most effective solution seems to be making junk food harder to get and also having a new routine that you do every single time you get stressed.
Nothing is likely to be a 100% cure, but perfection is not what we’re after in any event.