When life gets stressful it’s easy to overeat. Everyone has their own stress triggers and many people turn to food as a way to find comfort from the negativity. Learning to deal with the stressful situations in your life will help you avoid stress related overeating, lose weight, and lower your anxiety levels. Below are some of the most common reasons people reach for food when they’re stressed and ways to overcome it. Are any of these your triggers?
– You have insomnia and go to the kitchen for a late night snack.
– You’re bored and find yourself eating rather than doing something constructive.
– You find eating relaxing, especially after work.
– You reach for fatty, sugary, or high-carb foods after an argument.
– You’re faced with a task you don’t want to do so you snack as a way to procrastinate.
– You’re always on the go (mentally and/or physically) so fast food is easier than home cooking.
– You’re worried about various issues and eating calms you.
A Closer Look At Common Triggers
Worry And Overeating
Worrying about everything that could possibly happen is a common stress related reason for overeating and weight gain. The truth is, many of the things we worry about never happen. If they do, they tend to be much smaller than the catastrophes we thought they’d end up being. Every time your mind strays along the path of worrying, gently lead it back to the here and now. If you are faced with a problem, do what you can to fix it and let the rest go. I used to be a huge worry-wart and turned to food as a way to sidetrack my mind. Now I simply breathe through the worry, release it, and find something more productive to do.
Procrastination And Overeating
This is one of the biggest stress factors around. Getting everything done on your to-do list can be overwhelming. A lot of little chores pile up or bigger tasks seem daunting. This stress causes procrastination which causes guilt which triggers overeating. The only way to overcome procrastination is to get it done now rather than later. It’s simply learning a new habit of being a doer rather than a thinker or avoider. Don’t think about it, just dive in and tackle your most important tasks for the day. Leave smaller chores for later if you have more time. If you don’t, at least you won’t feel stressed knowing you failed to take care of the important things. I’ve found that writing a to-list before I go to bed at night to be a great help. I write down the most important things then the smaller ones underneath, and I try not to overwhelm myself with more than 5-10 things to do every day. I’ve become far more productive and less stressed over the years due to this one simple action.
Negative Self-Talk And Overeating
Another thing to pay attention to is your internal dialogue. I cover this a lot in my book Reprogram Your Subconscious. When under stress we tend to repeat negative things to ourselves such as, “You’re lazy!”, “That’s impossible!”, “You’ll never get it done!”, “You’re such a loser!” and other demeaning self-talk.
It takes a bit of practice, but any time a negative thought pops into your mind counteract it with a positive statement. You can say to yourself, “I can do this!”, “I feel calm and at peace no matter what I face”, “I make healthy food choices and am feeling better every day!” See if you can come up with your own positive interjections you can use to replace your well-worn negative self-talk.
Reduce Stress And Your Waistline
If you believe you’re overeating due to stress, there are several things you can do to relax rather than grabbing something unhealthy to soothe your nerves. Here are a few good ways to get your mind off food and reducing stress in more positive ways.
Get Your Feelings Out
Most of us have at least one trusted friend or family member we can talk to when stress gets the better of us. Rather than filling your mouth with food, call someone who cares about you and talk to them about how you’re feeling. Even if your reasons for feeling stressed seem insignificant or silly, just getting it off your chest is often enough to release the negativity and keep you from using food as a stress outlet.
Prepare Home Cooked Meals
In his book Fast Food Nation, author Eric Schlosser states that, ” Every day about one quarter of the U.S. population eats fast food.” Y es, life can get busy and it’s often easier to grab fast food than to cook at home, but the extra calories (and money!) just aren’t worth it. Instead, invest in a cookbook that’s slanted toward making home cooked meals in 30 minutes or less. There are several books filled with recipes that are cheap, healthy, and take only minutes to prepare. You’ll actually reduce stress by cooking at home more often, as well as losing weight, lifting your mood, increasing energy, and saving money.
Get Some Exercise Every Day
Getting daily exercise is something most of us avoid at all costs. We’ll busy ourselves, find ways to waste time, and would rather eat than work out. Of course, that backfires every time. Exercising just 10 minutes a day doing anything–a walk around the block, stretching, walking the dog, yoga, gardening–is better than nothing at all. You’ll reduce stress and release mood lifting endorphins that will have you feeling better the more you do it.
Rather than eating to relieve stress, try these simple techniques and you’ll find that you feel better, have more energy, think more clearly, and have a more positive mindset.