Dear Cassey: How do I deal with stress eating?

Dear Cassey,

Do you have any tips on how to combat stress eating? Hormones, lack of sleep, changes at work, and just general stress at work have been making me feel very stressed, and I’m finding myself reaching for snacks in these times of stress.

I try to keep snacks relatively healthy, like nuts or cheeses, but other times, I crave chocolate or something salty, and usually find myself feeling so full later that even thinking of a meal doesn’t sound appetizing, and I feel tempted to skip a meal just to try to “even out” and not take in too many calories.

I’m not unhealthily overweight, but I have gained weight since my cheerleading days, 5 years ago, and I feel like finding a healthier stress relief could help me feel closer to losing the unwanted weight. I know working out more can help relieve stress overall, but I wonder about immediate forms of relief as well. I would appreciate your advice.

Thank you!

Stress Eater

Dear Stress Eater,

First of all! I want to say thank you for being one of the first people to ever write in to my advice column! I am excited to focus on helping you deal with your stress eating today – because GIRL, I feel you. I used to stress eat A LOT and it was problem that I needed to acknowledge before I could get better.

Look, all those things you mentioned: lack of sleep, hormonal changes, and issues at work – those are 100% stress inducers! And guess what stress does? It makes us act out of character…it makes us cranky…it makes us cave into our weaknesses…it makes us make bad decisions…and it makes us want to reach for things that can make us feel good with low effort. And one of the easiest feel-good things we can reach for is FOOD!

I mean food makes us feel good in the moment – there’s no debate about that. And there’s nothing wrong with reaching for something to eat to make us feel better – because really, it DOES make us feel better!

Biting into something sweet or crunching on something salty brings us back to the good ole days of our childhood, where we could pretty much eat whatever we wanted without worrying that it would make us fat. Good flavors make us happy. But then, ya know, adulthood came along, and all of a sudden food had consequences. And that’s why we’re having this conversation.

Stress eating makes us eat more than we need to because we’re not eating when we’re hungry. We’re eating as a coping mechanism. And when we eat in EXCESS of our weight-maintenance caloric levels, we gain weight.

So, how do you stop the stress eating? Well – you need to figure out what you think is making you stressed and stop putting yourself in those situations! Here’s my advice.


The next time you wanna run to the snack cabinet and down a bunch of chips, take a moment to breathe. In through the nose and out through the mouth. Slowly. Remind yourself that you’re not actually hungry, and that you just need a break. Take a sip of water and go outside for a walk. It’ll help clear your mind and get your blood pumping, which will in turn make you feel better pretty much right away!


Not getting enough sleep 100% makes you stressed out. It increases your stress hormone cortisol, which also has been shown to be linked to an increase in lower belly fat. So what to do? Make it a PRIORITY to get into bed earlier. Try 10 min earlier, then 20 min, then 30 min, then an hour earlier. The sooner you get IN bed (even if you’re not sleepy), the sooner you’ll be likely to fall asleep.

If you have trouble falling asleep, do not look at your phone right before you go to bed. Work emails and notifications will stress you out. The light will make it harder for you to fall asleep. Instead, try reading a book. That always puts me right to bed!


You mentioned that changes at work and work stress in general have you feeling not so great. Is there a way you can talk to your boss and tell him or her what’s going on? How can your boss help you do your job better? I mean, yes they are there to manage you, but there are also there to get you to do your job well. It’s ok to ask for help! Maybe there’s something that you guys can discuss that will improve the work flow for the whole team!

If talking to your boss sounds scary, how about talking to your co-workers? Problem solving together and then bringing your plan to the boss might even impress him or her! Well that is…if your boss is open minded and is thinking about the welfare of the team and not his or her pride!

Either way, when work is stressful, I think it is important to them someone know so that they can help you get through it. I encourage our employees to always tell me if something is bothering them so that I can help them thrive at their job. It’s my duty to help them work on their best level!


Traditional meditation isn’t suited for everyone. I tried, and I just couldn’t find peace in sitting still for an hour. But meditation doesn’t have to look like that!

My form of meditation is getting a deep tissue massage! That makes me feel so relaxed right away.

I also find that getting in the zone when working out is another form of meditation for me. I always feel good after.

Find something that you can get lost in. Maybe it’s drawing, yoga, knitting, gardening – whatever it is – your form of meditation does not have to look like anyone else’s. It just needs to make you feel relaxed.


If you’re still stressed after trying all of this, talk it out with someone. Sometimes we just need someone to hear us complain! Get it off your chest. Talking it out will bring clarity to the situation and will help you figure out what is ACTUALLY stressing you out. Once you figure that out, and figure out a plan of attack for your problem, you won’t be stressed anymore! Being solutions oriented helps me stay less stressed because it keeps be objective and focused on the end goal.

Alright Stress Eater – I hope that helps!

If any of you guys have a question for the “Dear Cassey” advice column, please text your question to me at 510-692-4556. If you’re not able to because you’re not in the US or Canada, then you can leave a comment below!

37 thoughts on “Dear Cassey: How do I deal with stress eating?”

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  1. Ember says:

    hi, cassey, you probably won´t read this BUT I want to thank you for what you are doing and who you are in this world! I´ve just done your day one of March calendar and I´m crying. It´s like …I used to be fit and work out every day, all day with your videos …I was running, eating clean and healthy. That was my whole world! 🙂 I was 14 (now im 18)…But my parents didnt share the same passion about what I was doing like me and they used to call me anorexic, reminding me all the time food in equals energy out and sent me to hospital for being anorexic…Even though that doctors said me I was just too strict about food but okay…Parents made me to stop running, stop exercising…to eat like them…And I obeyed…My weight was 45 kg when I started to listen. And with these days when I was scared to do anything because I thought that I would dissapoint them I gained 15 kg in two years… Because of extreme overeating… I started to using the time when I used to work out for eating big amounts of shitty food for hours… I´ve just couldnt stop..I was addicted to constantly pulling food into my mouth- no matter whether I was hungry or not…I was having depressions but and parents just said : “You finally look normal” and everyone just kept saying that, but I wasnt feeling that way… they didnt care. The only thing that really matters to them was that I was normal – a bit fatty, and eating candies and everyhing… Actually when I looked in a mirror or went for a walk with a dog I was just thinking about killing myself…And why am I saying all that shitty stuff? Yesterday I´ve visited after a long time and I read a post about your body change and why you were doing it….So today I did 1 day of March workout and of course that I was quite angry about my physical condition that when you were doing pushups or plank I must go on my knees even though I used to be better a lot…And when I´ve finished it I did a fun cardio where you´re dancing 🙂 when I finished I ve just started crying like…I havnet cried for a really long time and suddenly i couldnt stop my taers running down my cheeks. I was feeling happy and like a person and not just some crap that is just pulling big amounts of food to its mouth…I felt graceful and I decided that Im starting fighting back for myslef, for what I,I actually want. Not everybody else. They made me to be scared and ashamed of running, doing exercise…But that has stopped now. So thank you for giving me that kick forward and I hope I will succed 🙂 You´re the most human, kind and inspirational person I´ve ever known…Thanks

  2. Michele Bauer says:

    Those were wonderfully helpful suggestions Cassey! Thank you!

  3. Michele Bauer says:

    Those were wonderful moly helpful suggestions Cassey! Thank you!

  4. Em says:

    Hey, I’m also a teen and some things that have helped me is cassey’s youtube workout videos there are so many of them and many for beginners! She also has an instagram acc.

  5. 5buakuG says:

    Dear casey
    I am teen and I always wanted to loose weight but obviously can’t afford a gym membership do you need the gym to be able to look and feel good and can you give me an idea on bigginers workout that will help get my fitness up
    From your devoted follower

  6. Background bookworm says:

    Dear Cassey,

    do you have any tips on how to start accepting your own body?
    I know that I’m a little overweight, so losing some pounds wouldn’t be bad. But right now I’m under the impression that I’m gonna be happier if I just lost these pounds. When I was still in school I weighed way less than I do now but I still thought I was chubby/fat. Right now I would be happy with the body I had back then. I know that losing weight is never a guarantee for happiness and that’swhy I want to learn how to accept the body I have but still work on it in a healthy mindset to get stronger, like you always say 🙂
    I want to get rid of the thaught that I don’t deserve to dress up because of the way my body looks but I don’t really know how to start.

    You are inspiring and although your workouts kill me I love them 🙂

  7. brownmckm says:

    I love this and totally agree!! The only other thing I have to say, coming from someone with a history of eating disorders and recovery, is that sometimes restriction makes it a million times harder. Cutting out foods you LOVE make you hyper focused on them and makes it much harder to make healthy choices. This being said, indulging and binge eating on mountains of food is never the right option, but sometimes listening to your body is the right answer! When you are craving something sweet, let yourself eat a couple pieces of dark chocolate! When you want something salty, allowing yourself to have a serving of chips is NOT the end of the world, even though it may feel like it. Loving your body and being ok with not being perfect is a huge part of the process and it has honestly helped me lose a little weight because I dont find myself fantasizing about the foods and then caving and over indulging! I definitely agree with all the things Cassey said and use those as well, but just wanted to add this !!! <3

  8. Melody says:

    Hi Cassie! I have been,following,you,for,some,time and need help. The stress eating article was amazing. I gained alot,of weight. I need exercises that are easy on the lower back and knees. Can you reccomend a few to start off with?

    1. Melody says:

      Also ones with ab exercises.

  9. Stacy says:

    Hi, Cassey!! What do you do if you’re in a toxic work environment? I started a new job about five months ago and I’m at the point that I can tell no one really likes me. I don’t have much in common with anyone. I really enjoy eating clean, working out, and all things encouraging/positive. I feel like I’ve found myself trying to fit in and eat unhealthy or make negative comments but I don’t want to become that way. I don’t know what to do. I’m so uncomfortable at work.

  10. Hey Cassey! I’d love it if you could next write something in your advice column about how to start and STICK to a new exercise routine, way of eating and healthy lifestyle. It’s great finding out information about what exercises to do and what you should technically be eating but it is SO SO easy to get off track and not go back, keeping on telling yourself you’ll start fresh AGAIN tomorrow! How do you continually to stay motivated and what coping mechanisms and techniques do you use when you fall off track but want to keep heading in the right direction? Thanks, much love!

  11. Muskaan says:

    Hi! I have been following you for almost three years now and honestly I admire you so much the kind of person you have become, it’s amazing! I want to be like you too you inspire me but everytime I try to make a change it ends up with me going back to my old lifestyle. I tell myself it’s okay let’s restart but it never works and God knows how many times I have restarted and tried to change my life but nothing ever happens I keep on falling back. And honestly now I am at a point where I don’t know if me doing anything is worth it because I think I am gonna fail at everything. All day long I eat unhealthy Even when I promised myself to start eating clean! But I always give in to my cravings, I love working out but now it’s like just the thought of doing it makes me feel lazy. I do nothing and I feel so guilty about doing nothing that no matter what I do I can’t be Happy!! It’s like my body is a pit of negativity and I do not know how to make it any better. I have seen you grow into such an amazing person, I just hope there’s something i can do to make myself feel better because nothing seems to work. I would really really really appreciate your advice.

  12. Prerana Gurung says:

    I tend to eat when I’m bored as well, it’s like I’m just craving to be chewing something. Snacking so frequently just messes with my appetite and my stomach doesn’t have a regular ‘clock’ for getting hungry.
    I’ve been thinking of trying ‘Intermittent Fasting’ because I’m seeing a lot of people trying it and seeing results! Hopefully it will break me out of my cravings to snack if I’m ‘not allowed to’.
    Do you think you could give it a go and either bust some myths about this new fasting trend or maybe prove that it does in fact work? xoxo

  13. Dear stress eater,

    We have all been there! Honestly, an outlet is what you need, and Casey’s recommendations are fabulous ones to start with. I’m also a bordem eater, so I often need to get myself out of the house and focused on something new and shiny. 🙂



  14. Huyền - Việt Nam says:

    I was a completely stress eater but now I’m totally heal.
    In my opinion, stress eating is a habit that people can break it. Recognizing this habit is a great first step. Each person will fit a solution, let’s try and apply , then see the results.
    Sometimes, we try to self-improve in isolation, it is so much easier when other people are helping you, so much easier.
    Change is a process, not an even
    I believe in your ability to change your habit, your behavior and change your life !!
    You DESERVE to be healthy, you DESERVE to feel good about yourself
    You can do it !!!

  15. Anna says:

    Great advice but I feel a bit sad that you have misunderstood meditation . It certainly isn’t relaxing all of the time and 5-10min a day is more than enough to get benefits! Sometimes those five minutes can feel like a struggle but that that’s all good. It’s more about recognizing your thought patterns and observing them from a neutral space within yourself so that you can see what’s going on and empower yourself to change or just enjoy the present. It’s more like a workout for the mind really, sometimes it makes you feel relaxed, sometimes energized, sometimes exhausted ^ – ^

    1. Apolline Leroy-Thieffry says:

      I came to the comments to say that. An hour-long meditation is torture to everyone, except very few, very experienced people. 10 mins can be more than enough ! And it is so relaxing, once you make it a habit. I usually do it just after brushing my teeth for the night : that way, it’s part of a routine and I can’t go to sleep if I haven’t done it. I recommend it to anyone !

    2. Emily says:

      I actually loved the point Cassey made! Some people are “active thinkers” and can get into a meditative state through movement. I do martial arts, and I feel that my practice is moving meditation for myself. I don’t think she misunderstands meditation, I think she is acknowledging that sitting still and meditating isn’t for her, which I really empathize with. Just my thoughts coming from a similar place as her!

  16. Manal says:

    I would love it if you could share advice about fear of being not being liked. I work in a male dominated field and tend to let some comments go that I wouldn’t otherwise stand for in my day to day life in order to avoid drama at work, or a confrontation of someone I might regularly see, or straight up not wanting to be disliked. I figure in your position you would need to interact with many people and would love some input about if you face this issue and if yes, then how you would deal with it.

  17. Sharon says:

    Great advice Cassey! I’ve actually been fighting my own stress-eating struggles recently, and committing to sleeping 7-9 hours EVERY day and hydrating and walking more actually really helped pull me out of my slump! Crazy enough (but not really ;D), taking better care of myself also helped me improve at work; I’m quicker and more focused and efficient now in the bakery where I work, which has reduced a lot of pressure I was getting from my managers, who were always yelling “go faster,” “where’s this,” “where’s that,” etc before. Granted I’ve only been working there for 6 months thus far and part of the improvement simply came with time that I’ve been there, I think a lot can be said by really prioritizing and considering what YOU need to do to be your BEST self, which is not *always* the immediate gratification we crave. 😅 (and this is coming from a baker!!)

  18. Jessica says:

    Hey Cassey, I have a question for you. I have been currently recovering from an eating disorder. I am weight restored and miss working out. My doctor said that once I was weight restored,I am able to workout. However, I feel like exercising again might bring back those negative thoughts. Do you have advice for this! Thanks!

  19. Charlotte Owen says:

    I have a question. My period really messes up my healthy routine. I don’t want to eat healthy (and I feel like I HAVE to eat junk and nothing can stop me), I do my workouts half heartedly if at all. Then I’m left feeling guilty about it and that usually makes me wanna eat more junk food because I feel like I’ve failed. I feel like this is the last thing holding me back to seeing progress.

  20. Angel says:

    When I stress eat, it’s because my day is too long and never ending. You have to get things done, there are deadline’s. You want to take a break, but you can’t, so you reach for caffeine and a snack to get you through. I wish there was a regular routine, but life gets in the way. You get going by 7am and get home at 1am. Those are demanding days and they happn more than they should. You forget any kind of boundaries and all you want is a day off and time for you.

  21. Natalie says:

    Thanks so much for this Cassey! I’ve been following you for years and somehow I always feel like whatever you’re doing aligns with whatever I’m going through. This week was a stressful week for me and I did turn to eating to cope even though I knew it was unhealthy! So I started thinking of a plan to counter it and bam! Here you are with this advice column. I’ll definitely try these out and figure out a plan that works for me.

    Love and support you always! ❤️

  22. lxj says:

    What Nike said: Just do it!

  23. may says:

    Dear Cassey,
    I have been trying to eat healthy for a long time. i did the reset in January but since then i always have an excuse.Like its my yolo meal (which it isnt) or one piece of chocolate wont hurt.
    Or when I acually have a good food day like yesterday we went somewhere and they had brownies,
    cookies, and ice cream. Which I couldnt resist.
    The Obligated Eater

  24. Maureen says:

    This was such a great question and response! I have to work on redirecting my bad behaviors bc I am such a stress eater! Thanks for the tips!

  25. Steph says:

    Hi Cassey, I suffer with migraines particularly when I do any high impact exercises and as I work in an office all day I would like to up my cardio. Do you have any suggestions for exercise that would get my heart pumping but is relatively low impact?

  26. Andy says:

    Dear Cassey,
    There’s something I struggle with a lot: self-control. Whenever there are pastries, cakes, chips… around me – you see the kind of food I’m talking about –, I can’t control myself and just eat literally EVERYTHING. It happens each time I go to my parents’ place for example. Just taking a bite of one croissant or eating one or two pieces of chocolate won’t be enough for me, even though I know that, afterwards, I’ll feel bad to have eaten so much.

    However, there are occasions where I do plan on eating much: when I go out for diner or try out new coffee shops with friends for example. On these occasions, I don’t feel guilty to eat to my fullest precisely because it’s planned, so there are no reasons for me to feel frustrated in general: I don’t have a restricted diet, I eat healthily most of the time, I do a sport that I enjoy and workout a lot.

    But I hate it when the craving just “erupts”, and I can’t do anything about it. I really eat as if my life depended on this, and the only thing I can think of is: “enjoy that food while it’s there, because once you go home, you won’t have those pastries / cakes, etc.”

    The only time I could control myself was a time where I did not eat carbs at all – I mean, really, at all – to loose weight and even though it was a very restricted – and unbalanced – diet, I was so focused on my objective that I managed to be “reasonable” when I had to. I don’t want to go back to that diet, but I’d like to find that focus again. But for the moment, I go through a tough period (preparing competitive exams in addition to my regular master) and I can’t seem to find that mental strength even though I still have that long-term objective to loose body fat to enhance my sports performances.

    I know everything’s in the mind, but I lack some concrete tips, and I hoped you could help me on that one.

    In any case, thanks for just being who you are and doing what you do. I’ve been following your workouts videos since 2012 and it’s thanks to you that I could build such a strong body and reach high performances in my sport’s field.


    1. College Student says:

      I also struggle with this!! I am in college, living in a dorm, and do a sport. My diet is not really restrictive and I try to eat healthy but whenever I go home I lose like all control. My mom loves baking so their are always sweets when I go home. Once I take a bite I feel need to eat the whole batch. I get the same thought of, “enjoy the food now because when you go back to campus you won’t have all the cookies/cake/chocolate, etc.”
      I would really love some advice on this topic!
      Thank you!

  27. College Student says:

    Dear Cassey!

    I am a college student and also I am a person trying to lose lower belly fat. I used to be overweight but since the beginning of the 2020 year I am getting stronger and better. I know many people complain about lower belly fat and there is lots of informations about it in the internet but not all of them are true. I got trapped in a wrong way of losing weight many times because of those fake “informations” (I’ve been working on my body for like 3 years now). That’s why a I want to ask You what are the myths (not only the most common) about losing lower belly fat and what can actually help? I know it depends on stress level (imagine being a college student and trying to lower a stress level; it’s hard but I am doing my best) and I also know losing belly fat needs, above all, a diet which I am following (but i
    I also workout; cardio and muscles concentration), etc. The real question is, is there maybe a secret only known by fit trainers or something like that. Let me know please, I’d be very thankful for that.

    With love and respect

    P.S I am from Poland and I cannot text you. I hope you will read this comment and respond to it.

    1. Apolline says:

      One thing you have to remember, is that apart from doing some exercices focused on the lower abs, there’s no way to lose lower belly fat. There are ways to lose fat, period. To lose lower belly fat, you have to reduce your overall body fat percentage ! There’s no big secret. And the thing is, in most people, the belly is the last place to lose fat. It’s one of the easiest place for your body to store fat, to protect you if anything happened to you. If you want to lose it, you just have to be patient, eat healthily, and workout regularly. There’s no other recipe.

  28. Riffat says:

    Those are some good tips… I am surely going to try these when I am very much tempted to eat when I am stressed

  29. Young broke and hungry says:

    Dear Cassey,
    How do I have a healthy diet to lose weight when I’m a college student living in a dorm with food facilities where the menu remains the same?some days just aren’t nutritious and it’s hard to afford low calorie alternatives every week.i always stick to my workouts though

  30. Giulia says:

    I just wanted to say: “pay attention to bulimia and binge eating”. It’s probably (very probably) not your situation, however some behaviours can lead to a food disorder. And I say so ’cause it’s happened to me. Classifying food and separating good foods and bad foods can be very dangerous. And skipping meals or working out in order to take in fewer calories is typical of bulimia. This doesn’t mean you don’t have to work out, but the aim should not be reducing your calorie intake.
    I do hope that you’re perfectly healthy! ❤️ However I think that people should be aware of the consequences of certain choices and behaviours and know at least a little about these food disorders 😊
    Much love,
    Giulia (and sorry for any mistakes!!)

  31. May Austria says:

    This is an amazing piece! Super helpful! I will take note to breathe, hydrate and walk everytime I reach for the snack cabinet. I literally did all things wrong today and feeling incredibly terrible for my behavior towards my body, which I pay gratitude towards everyday. After reading this, I’m totally going to remember all of this advice word by word and implement into my lifestyle. Thanks cassey!

  32. Elizabeth says:

    I love this new column! You give the best advice, Cassey.❤️