Dear Fitness Coach,
I have been a stress-eater for as long as I can remember. College finals meant two sleeves of Oreo cookies chased down with endless cans of Dr. Pepper. In my 20s, a bad date or break-up sent me straight to the bottom of a gallon of Breyer’s Butter Pecan. Now in my 30s, I am a single mom with a full-time job with a preschooler. The stress is off the charts, and I am climbing a clothing size every year. I’ve got to stop this emotional eating response, but I have tried countless times and failed.
Stressed about stress eating
Stress is a fact of life, throughout your life. It is not necessarily the stress that is destructive, but how you actually respond to it. Follow these tips to end the vicious cycle of emotional overeating:
- Exercise is, hands down, the best way to alleviate stress whether it’s a run in the park or a kick-boxing class at your local gym. Cardio gives you the same endorphin rush as a red velvet cupcake without the calories or guilt.
- Get at least 7 to 8 hours sleep a night. Being well-rested helps you cope with stress more effectively.
- Reduce your glycemic intake. You are most likely in the grips of a sugar addiction, which is causing you to crave processed food. Eating fiber-rich, nutrient-dense foods, paired with adequate protein, will help reduce your cravings.
- Find something that has the ability to calm you down immediately: a cup of chamomile tea, a scented candle, new-age music, or a favorite hobby. Turn to that, instead of food, when you feel stressed.
- Adapt and adjust: For every possible stressor, preplan a healthy response and imagine yourself carrying it out. So when the stressful situation does arise, you will know exactly how to react.