Eating during times of stress can help ease negative emotions in high-stress jobs, when facing a difficult problem, feeling stressed or bored. It often leads to eating too much — especially too much of high-calorie, sweet and fatty food.
Eating comfort food when things get tough—also known as emotional eating or stress eating can sabotage your weight-loss efforts and even lead to eating disorders.
Your brain feeds on sugar. Although the brain needs glucose, too much of it can be a bad thing. And especially in high demanding situations or longer periods of time, it can be bad for your health.
Here is how to fight food cravings and regain control of your healthy eating habits:
Be aware and figure out what your triggers are. Emotional eating doesn’t solve the problem that made you upset. Stay away from conflicts that make you unhappy, change your job if it gets too demanding, take more work breaks to prevent stress from building up.
Are you really hungry? What are healthier alternatives to eating? Find better food alternatives. Remove the urge to snack on unhealthy foods by keeping them out of your home. Replace unhealthy sugar products to more healthier ones: honey, a banana or another fruit, vegetables with a low-fat dip, a handful of nuts. Drink water between meals.
Keep a food diary. A diary of an app (such as MyFitnessPal available on smartwatches such as Apple Watch) where you write what you eat, how much, how often can help you track your calories, nutrients, see patterns that reveal the connection between mood and food. It can keep you accountable for your eating habits and wellbeing.
Structure your food purchases. Do not keep unhealthy food options in your house or office. Do not go shopping when you’re hungry. Whenever you shop, have a grocery shopping list to prevent overspending on unnecesarry or unhealthy foods.
Tame your stress. Yoga, meditation, a 30 minutes walk, regular sleep and exercise can help reduce stress levels.
Get support. If you have a strong support network (family and friends) you are less likely to give in to emotional eating. Don’t be afraid to discuss your eating habits with your doctor or a mental health professional. Left unaddressed, emotional eating may lead to eating disorder.
Find alternative ways to deal with stress, like healthier food choices and practicing mindful eating, exercise, and a strong support network.