Stress or comfort eating is a vicious circle, as stress can be caused by a lack of self-confidence and body issues. Giving in to temptation may make us feel better for a short time, but it quickly leads to feeling like we’ve let ourselves down and, eventually, comfort eating again. It’s better to look at ways of avoiding this.
1. Getting help
One of the most important things to consider if stress eating has become a big problem is getting help. While this article offers useful advice, talking to a qualified professional and getting personalized help and advice is a priority in overcoming the deeper issues behind your eating. Relief Seeker helps you find the best online therapy service to suit your needs.
2. Looking at how food makes you feel
If you really think about the moments of food consumption, there will usually be at least a short-lived feeling of satisfaction and comfort. However, the negative emotions you may feel afterwards quickly replace that. Therefore, asking yourself why you turn to food and your emotions around it can be a good step to take in figuring out how to change.
3. Finding better ways to get the same positive feelings
Try making a list of other non-food-related activities you enjoy. If you can’t think of much, how about things you enjoyed before? These might be interests you can pick up again. For example, if you enjoyed making things, then the satisfaction of creating and seeing your final product could keep you busy and take your mind off food. Alternatively, going outside for a walk or run can improve your confidence over time and has many other health benefits.
4. Keeping track of how much you eat
Eating throughout the day can make it difficult to keep track of exactly how much we consume on a daily basis. We can fool ourselves into thinking that we haven’t eaten much. Keeping a list for a week can bring to light how much food is consumed, and help to create a healthier plan. Swapping some of the foods we eat for healthier alternatives can also help to change the way that we look at food, seeing it as a way to look after our bodies rather than to deal with stress. Another benefit is healthier skin and hair.
5. Making a shopping list and sticking to it
It’s much easier to turn to food for comfort and to deal with stress if the food is easily available. Doing a weekly shop can prevent this. Make a list of everything you want before you do your shop, leaving out the things that you find hard to resist but know aren’t good for you, or triggeryou to eat more. Then, when you see special offers or anything that’s not on the list, stick to what you’ve written down and bypass anything else. Double-check that you have everything on the list so that you have no reason to return to the shop before your next weekly shop, therefore avoiding more temptation.
6. Making treats more of an occasion
Just because you’re making positive steps to avoid stress eating, thisdoesn’t mean that you can’t treat yourself occasionally. You may be making progress with your food issues, or in other parts of your life, or simply want to socialize with friends in a restaurant. It’s important to be able to do this and enjoy your favorite foods in moderation. The chances are that you’ll enjoy them more if you have them infrequently. Eating in a social setting with the people we care about can also be a more enjoyable experience than eating alone at home. During the recent lockdown, most of us have succumbed to comfort eating at some point.
7. Cooking from scratch
Buying convenience food may be a quick option at the end of a long day, but taking the time to cook food from scratch gives you the option to include your choice of ingredients, and you’re more likely to appreciate and enjoy your meal when it’s ready than if you just put something in the microwave for five minutes. If you have a partner and/or child, making mealtimes more of an occasion to catch up over home-cooked food can help to associate food with family time instead of overeating and feeling bad about it afterwards.
It’s not easy to break the cycle of comfort and stress eating, but it is possible with professional help and a willingness to work at it. Rather than dwelling on the challenge ahead, try thinking about it in small stages and take one step at a time. Speaking to someone is the first important step.