**I feel Iike I need to add a little disclaimer up here before I get going. I am not a doctor, nor any sort of health professional. I only know what works for me in regards to stress eating. Consult a doctor if you need to. Also, I’m not telling you to skip meals or not eat anything ever! Eat when you are hungry and recognize when you are not.**
It’s no secret that I have a lot going on in my life right now. (Well, it’s kind of a secret. I don’t really get into specifics.) And with that comes enormous amounts of stress and anxiety, on top of my usual stress and anxiety. My formal diagnosis is moderate social anxiety, moderate anxiety, and mild depression.
I’ve been a stress eater for most of my life. It didn’t help anything that my mom bought lots of junk food so it was always there. When I got in trouble (or feared getting in trouble) I’d sneak a bag of Cheetos into my room. Or a can of soda. Or just snack constantly all day.
Up until a few months ago, I did the same, off and on. It wasn’t good for my weight, skin nor my health. During the worst of my situation, I stopped eating most days. Barely getting enough water. Anxiety and fear cause me to overeat/eat when I’m not really hungry, but they also cause me to stop eating and avoid food altogether.
I’m getting my stuff together not only for me and my own health, but for the three little copycats that live with me. I’ve been noticing that my kids are starting to sneak snacks when they really shouldn’t be hungry. Here are some thing that work for me when I want to eat all the things.
Drink a glass of water
You can put some lemon in it, ice, berries, essential oils – whatever you want. For me, I like ice and a straw. I feel like I drink more water using a straw (less work maybe?) I’ve heard that sometimes when you think you are hungry, you really just need water. I aim for 200oz a day, but usually top out at around 140-160oz. Get a pretty water bottle if you need to. I have a 64oz Rubbermaid water container that I have on my desk to fill my 24oz water bottle with when I’m running low.
Know your triggers
I talked about this above. Mine are fear and anxiety. It is brought on more often when my kids are gone. I tend not to eat much, if at all, on those days. I know as time goes by, those days will get easier to deal with, but for now, I set reminders on my phone to eat a snack or two. Some get triggered by anger. Others sadness. Figure out what it is for you and learn how to deal with it in another way.
I recently downloaded the Headspace app to get rid of the tight, painful feeling in my chest (Gabby Bernstein says that’s where I keep all of my fear, anxiety and stress.) I’ve done several (short 3-5 minute) sessions since then and I think it’s working? I’m not quite sure yet. I’m definitely going to add this to my morning routine, since I’m up at 5 am anyway. There are several other mindfulness/meditation apps. I encourage you to try them out and find one that works for you. So far, I’ve only used free ones. (In all honesty, I kind of love the voice of the narrator on Headspace…)
Which brings me to…
Get outside if you can. It’s nearly winter here in northern Minnesota, so I’m trying to go for more walks. I’ve never been a runner, but I may take up jogging next spring. Also, try some yoga. There are some yoga workouts in the Sworkit app that I’m going to start incorporating to my bedtime routine – and I’m also going to get my kids involved. I’m finding lately that excercise is the answer to quite a few of my worries.
Get a new habit
Emotional/stress eating is pretty much a habit. So to break it, you need to replace it with something else. I’m replacing mine with exercise and drinking water. I use the nifty little habit tracker in my inkWELL Press planner each month.
If you really just feel like eating everything in your house, pick up the phone and call (or text, if you hate talking on the phone like I do) someone who can cheer you up but also not shame you if you do end up eating that whole tub of ice cream in one sitting.
Just Don’t Buy Junk Food
It’s cheaper, in the long run, to just leave the crap at the store. Buy the little squares of dark chocolate, some chocolate covered almonds, fruits, veggies, whatever sorts of healthy things you like and stock your house with those.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
If you happen to eat that king-size candy bar, oh well. It was just one. Realize that you can choose to try again. Make a better choice next time. It will be ok!