4 Simple Tips To Reducing Stress Eating
Updated: Feb 10
Girl!! With all the physical and mental stressors that show up during perimenopause you may have noticed a difference in your midlife appetite.
I’ve always been a sweets kind of girl. Double Stuffed Oreos or anything that came covered in frosting were my go to, but then something happened and all the sudden I was craving Doritos, sandwiches, heavy dishes covered in rich sauces - I was on a carb loading binge for months!!
Eating these heavy carbs was affecting my weight, my self confidence, my sleep, and my energy level.
Have you noticed a change in your appetite since hitting your mid or late 40s? Or even your early 50s? As your hormones fluctuate so will your forms of comfort.
It’s common for people to eat to feel better. Emotional eating is one of the topics clients come to me about all the time. And an emotion we seem to experience a lot more in midlife is . . . you guessed it - Stress!
Stress-related eating helps us escape or avoid difficult emotions. Research has shown that people who have higher cortisol levels are more likely to stress-eat as a way to cope.
Our food choices change under stress, as well. People who feel stressed are more likely to pick items higher in fat and sugar, possibly because these foods are better at activating the reward response in our brains.
I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer here and say that all emotional eating is bad. Sometimes having a dish that brings you back to a happy memory in your childhood is a treasure that no one can replace. Sometimes a celebratory glass of wine is totally warranted!!
It becomes a problem when it affects your overall health -like when you use food to avoid dealing with emotions or leaves you feeling worse than you did.Plus, stress induced or emotional eating can have long term health consequences.
Here are 4 Tips To Help You Reduce Stress Eating
Name the underlying emotion. If emotions are running high and you’re starting to crave food, take a moment to check-in with yourself. I want you to ask yourself “What emotion am I feeling?” Be honest, open, and as specific as possible. Being as clear as possible on naming your emotions is crucial. This action will help you identify the trigger so you can start to notice patterns. There’s a great Trigger Tracker my in 7 Simple Strategies to Stop Overeating Ebook
Try to set yourself up for success each day! Do you notice that most of your triggers are coming at you in the evening at the end of a long workday? Ask yourself “Am I adequately nourishing myself throughout the day?” Those cravings may simply be hunger in disguise. Many women under-eat throughout the day in an attempt to lose weight, yet this approach backfires when it leads to night-time binging. If you start nourishing yourself more consistently, you may be surprised to find how much better you feel in the evenings and how much more control you have over your emotional responses.
Find something other than food when you need that pick-me-up or feeling of comfort. What’s harmful is when food is our only strategy for managing stress. Think about your most common trigger emotions - things like anxiety, loneliness, boredom, or stress - and make a “menu” of activities you can do instead. Write it down so that your cues are at your fingertips next time the urge to emotionally eat arises. There’s a great Instead of This Do This handout in my 7 Simple Strategies to Stop Overeating Ebook
Finally, you hear me say it all the time . .. give yourself some grace!! Despite your best efforts, you may sometimes slip back into that old habit of stress-eat. The best approach when this happens is to reflect on why you ate because of stress. Then, accept it and quickly move forward! Remind yourself that you were simply using a tool in your “toolbox” for managing emotions, and next time you can try to use a different one.
I’d love to hear from YOU!! What is one strategy you’ve used in the pass that has worked? Your tip may help someone else.