Stress can lead to overeating, which in turn can lead to guilt and shame. It's a vicious cycle that begins a craving and ends with a pint of ice cream and personal pizza devoured (not like I've done that before or anything). The issue? The food doesn't actually make you feel any better—or solve the problems that were causing you stress to begin with.
Instead of letting comfort food control you, we researched a few tips to employ when you feel sad, overwhelmed, or under too much pressure. Below, celebrity nutritionist Elissa Goodman offers helpful advice for taking the emotion out of your eating.
"If stress has you anxious, worried, and hangry, you must integrate meditation into your daytime routine. Taking a five- to 10-minute reset in the middle of your day, for example before lunch, can help you maintain a better sense of mindfulness throughout the day," notes Goodman. "Simply being aware has been shown to decrease emotional eating habits. If you find yourself under stress and take a five-minute meditation break (I like to use my Calm app for this), in place of a snack attack, you will most likely find yourself less likely to turn to food for stress relief."
Practice Pre-Meal Gratitude
"It sounds kind of cheesy, but before you eat, practice one minute of gratitude for the food you’re about to consume," says Goodman. "A study on 'blue zones' (cultures with statistically significant populations of people living beyond a hundred), demonstrated that pre-meal gratitude traditions correlated with not overeating."
Cut Out Processed Sugar
"Cut out processed sugar for at least two weeks," suggests Goodman. "Sometimes stress eating can actually be sugar dependence in disguise. Cutting it out entirely will detox your body and help re-wire your system to cut cravings. In place of processed sugars, use 100% pure organic stevia, monkfruit, dates, honey, or maple syrup for sweeteners in moderation."
Get Enough Minerals
"Make sure you’re getting enough minerals, as most people are mineral-deficient and stress can exacerbate the problem by demanding even more mineral stores. Sometimes stress eating is our body's way of trying to fill a nutrient void. Make sure you’re drinking mineral water or getting a good mineral supplement daily. I like Mary Ruth’s Multi-Mineral ($40)."
Keep Junk Food Out of Sight
"Don’t keep junk foods anywhere near your living or working space—if they’re not there, you can’t eat them," says Goodman. "Instead, replace it with healthy snacks that don't create a binge-effect for you. Snacks that have a crunch to them can be especially helpful because they’ll sometimes fill that need for texture. Apples dipped in almond butter, carrots with hummus, kale chips, and nuts are all great options."
Take an Adaptogen
"Take an adaptogen or another cortisol-lowering supplement," recommends Goodman. "Adaptogens are herbs that adapt and support to your unique physiological needs and help balance stress hormones. Lowering cortisol (the stress hormone) is key to managing stress and therefore stress eating. Some of my favorites for stress are tulsi, ashwagandha, and rhodiola."