February 19, 2020
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.
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.
BREATHE, HYDRATE, WALK.
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!
CREATE A POSITIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT.
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!
FIND YOUR FORM OF MEDITATION.
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.
TALK IT OUT.
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!