I’ve been there. I’ve had a stressful day, whether it’s from work, school or family, and all I wanted to do was eat. First it was nibbling on a ‘healthy’ snack. Then before I knew it, I’ve moved onto the pint of ice cream.

Can you relate?

Stress affects everyone in some way or another and is the most subtle form of emotional eating. The key question to ask yourself is: How do I handle stress?

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If you are like many people, you turn to food to cope with your emotions. Stress eating is commonly associated with weight gain by way of making poor food choices, eating larger portions or engaging in mindless eating as a result of stress-related emotions.

If you are wondering why this happens, even though you try hard to stop stress eating, here are a few reasons that might bring you clarity:

1. Stress activates your adrenal glands to release cortisol, increasing your appetite.
2. Stress obstructs your hunger hormones that regulate your appetite, which can lead you to overeat.
3. High stress levels can affect your sleep, causing your appetite to increase even more.

stop your stress eating_2

When you turn to food in difficult moments, you are using food as a distraction from dealing with whatever stress is going on in that moment. Once you are finished overeating, the stress is still there coupled with the stress and guilt you are feeling from overeating.

Here are 6 tried and true tips to stop stress eating:

1. Exercise the stress away
Exercise is a great way for you to relieve stress. When you exercise you release endorphins, which will boost your mood and help prevent bouts of emotional eating.

You can try low-intensity exercises, such as yoga or walking, which will help you relax and get your mind off of your stressors. Or you can engage in moderate-intensity exercise. Either way, you’ll replace the urge to snack with something else that can help you in more ways than one!

2. Schedule relaxation time
Meditation can do wonders for healing your stress. If you take 10 minutes out of your evening to reflect and do deep breathing exercises, you will notice a difference on your stress levels. Yoga can also be used as your relaxation time, which will have a positive double-duty effect on your stress!

3. Seek support from family and friends
Talking with your family and friends can help you cope with your emotions and you’ll be less likely to turn to food to cope. Reaching for food during a stressful time will only suppress how you feel. If you seek out help from the people around you, you’ll handle your stress in a better way and be able to move past it.

4. Be aware of your stress/emotional triggers
Carry around a journal and start to take note of when you become stressed and what foods you reach for. You may start to notice a pattern and/or signals and you can use these to avoid stress eating!

5. Be kind to yourself
If you do reach for your favorite food to help cope with your current stressful situation, do not get angry with yourself. Emotional eating can lead to a cycle of guilt, causing you to continuously overeat. If you reach for your favorite snack, do not beat yourself up over it. It is okay and you can move on from it.

6. Focus on the real issue
In order to avoid emotional eating, you’ll need to get to the root of your emotions. Maybe it’s your job, relationship or your children, whatever it is, you need to identify it and work on it. If you choose to bury how you feel, you will have a difficult time trying to overcome using food to cope. If you open up and work on your emotions and what is causing them, you will have an easier time moving away from food to cope with your emotions.

The best way to help deal with your stress eating is to develop a plan for when you enter a stressful/emotional state. Having a plan will help you stay on track with your goals and avoid entering a cycle of guilt that comes with overindulging.

For more information on managing stress eating, click here. http://dietfreeradiantme.com/simplesteps

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