How to Stop Stress Eating During Times of Crisis

Who isn’t stress eating these days?

Two groups of people:

  1. Naturally thin people – they aren’t eating at all. Believe me. They stop eating when stressed. It’s annoyingly incomprehensible for those of us who struggle with being overweight.
  2. Weight loss coaches – yes, it is possible to have had a life long toxic relationship with food and not be over-eating during crisis. Crazy idea, huh. Wouldn’t you love that?

Here’s the secret: It’s an EMOTION that is driving that insatiable need to over-eat

I’m betting that emotion is anxiety, stress, or fear.

Our brains are wired to want food. We need it to survive BUT we don’t need it to control our emotions. Our brains are in over-drive fear mode right now and screaming at us “Give me food to survive. Food always makes it better. Yep, food is a good idea to fix this crisis.”

Add to that the fact that food is hoarded in our homes – and probably not the good for you kind. The kind that will last for months. All those processed and extra tempting food options that we all need to survive this crisis. I mean, you had to get those in mass, right? Who knows when you will be able to go to the grocery store again?

Or did your brain just want the comfort of food during these anxious and fearful times?

So, we reward our screaming brains with food. The highly addictive food to boot. When we stress eat, we feel good for a minute – the food gives us a quick hit of dopamine to cause a little pick-me-up. The problem is that pick-me-up lasts just as long as that food is on our taste buds. Seconds.

Then we have to deal with the waterfall of negative emotions that come from over-eating. We feel guilty, weak, disheartened, more anxious, more stressed. So how do we cope? We eat more.

Anyone with me?

Are your sweatpants even starting to get a little tight?

That stinks. I’m here to help.

I’m currently offering Private Coaching Sessions for those who want to break the cycle of stress eating during COVID-19. E-mail me to find out how we can keep you from gaining what many are calling “The COVID 19”!

3 Simple Steps to Stop Stress Eating During Times of Crisis

My patient, Sandy, recently brought this exact problem to me. She stress ate as soon as she got home from work. She genuinely ate well all day long but that was all the willpower she could muster. At the end of the work day, it was eat anything in site. She was literally unloading the day’s stress on cupcakes, chips, wine, and anything else around. And then feeling way worse afterward.

She was gaining weight like crazy. So frustrated at herself, she did not even know where to turn to stop the stress eating.

Here’s the steps I put Sandy through to fix this stress eating:

  1. Recognize the feeling fueling your over-eating – Awareness is always the first step. What does stress feel like to you? To me, it feels like a tightness in the upper chest, back, and neck. It’s a tightening of the jaw and flush of the face. It’s a warm tight clench. Pay attention to the feeling driving your stress eating.
  2. Describe the emotion to yourself – Describing the feeling that you are experiencing to yourself may be all you need to do. Sounds crazy, right? But, these urges often come and go that fast. Simply stopping the loop long enough to be aware of it gives your brain a second to calm down. And time for you to take control.
  3. Decide a thought that works for you to use and insert it in that moment – Obviously you know that this stress eating isn’t helping you. The problem is that you just give in or want it in the moment. Coming up with thoughts to insert right into that stress feeling causing eating loop that you just paused will make all of the difference.

What thoughts work to stop stress eating?

This part is individual – just taking someone else’s thoughts doesn’t always work. Try some out and see if they feel right. Here are a few of my favorite thoughts when I feel the need to stress eat:

  • Food is not going to fix this problem. I am.
  • Food does not change my stress – I do.
  • I can handle this stress in ways that will bring positive, not negative, to my life.
  • Food is not my friend.
  • If I really want this, I can always have it tomorrow.
  • I can’t control the outcome. I can only control what I bring into the world.
  • I am perfectly equipped to deal with this.

For Sandy, as well as the rest of us, things just got a little more stressful, more anxious, scarier. I talked to her this week, though. And she feels equipped to handle the stresses that life brings – without the crutch of food.

I want that for you, too.

If you’re ready to break the cycle of emotional stress eating, email me! My clients are losing weight right now despite the COVID-19 crisis – you can, too!

If you are interested in finding out more or discussing weight loss coaching options with me, schedule a free mini-session with me!

Ready to kick those mental roadblocks to the curb? Click here to lose 5 pounds in 1 week!

Struggling with over-eating for self-soothing? Check out my post:

How about eating for pleasure? Check out my post: