Most people have a favorite comfort food or snack that they indulge in from time to time. But stress eating — also known as emotional eating — can sabotage your weight loss and fitness goals and even lead to health problems if left unchecked.
If you find yourself coping with stress by turning to food, our team of weight loss specialists at East Bay Wellness can help. James Stalker, DC, and our team offer custom weight loss plans and strategies designed to address your individual needs and help you meet your health and weight loss goals.
Why stress eating is bad for you
If your go-to food when you’re feeling anxious or stressed is carrots, fresh fruit, or a light salad, you probably don’t have to worry. The problem with stress and emotional eating is that for most people, the satisfaction comes from eating snacks that are high in fat and sugar, such as cupcakes and fried food.
Your body responds to stress by releasing the hormone cortisol, which is only meant to stay in your system for a short amount of time as part of the fight-or-flight response. However, if it stays in your system too long, which is what happens when you experience chronic stress, it can trigger cravings for sugary snacks. Overeating and high blood sugar can also increase your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes or becoming obese, which affects millions of Americans.
Healthy alternatives to stress eating
Everyone experiences and handles stress differently. Take a mindful approach to tackling emotional eating and don’t try to quit cold turkey or change your habits overnight, which can be difficult and increase your stress and anxiety levels even more. Try doing the following things:
Keep a food diary
A great place to start is to keep a food diary, which can help you keep track of what you eat and when. It can also help you identify your stress triggers and eating habits. For example, if you find that you always get a craving for a cookie or candy bar at the same time every day or around a specific feeling or event, you can make a plan to switch out the unhealthy snack with a piece of fruit or a glass of water. You can also stop to consider whether you’re really hungry or just need to take a break to stretch or go for a walk.
Find healthy outlets for your stress
Find an activity that can help you relax. Whether that involves a physical activity, such as walking or running, or a quiet activity, such as reading a book, take some time to decompress.
Don’t try to go it alone
Talking to a trusted friend or family member, joining a support group, and seeking professional help are the best ways to manage stress and adopt healthy habits.
Stress and old habits don’t have to keep holding you back from your weight-loss goals. To get help, book an appointment online or over the phone with East Bay Wellness today.