10 smart ways to stop stress eating. NOW.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever make peace with food. I’m a stress-eater. It’s something I’ve battled my entire life. I suppose it could be worse. I could be a stress-drinker or a stress-smoker or a stress-drug-taker.

Food is relatively harmless when you think of it like that.

Still, food has the power to make or break my day because when I stress-eat I feel better as long as I am chewing but once I’m done I feel terrible, weak, like a total failure.

Stress-eating affects both mental and physical health. It’s not funny. It’s not an amusing scene from a “chick flick”. I really hate seeing scenes like that.

In the movie That Old Feeling Molly and her mom Lily drown their sorrows in lots and lots of food. Article continues after this video.

Video by Universal Pictures

Logically I know that stress-eating isn’t a good idea. I know I’m going to feel like crap afterwards. Still, I can’t stop it from happening.

My weight is reasonable so I could probably just accept that sometimes I stress-eat, forgive myself and then move on. At least that’s what my therapist says to do. There are two things that bother me about that advice.

  1. I don’t want food to have that kind of power over me and;
  2. I want to find healthier ways to cope with stress.

Accredited practising dietitian Chloe McLeod told Huffington Post Australia there are a couple of common reasons why people stress eat.

“Often when you’re stressed you don’t sleep as well, and when you’re tired your body actually releases more of the hormones that make you feel hungry, even if you’re not actually hungry,” he explained. “Also, when you’re tired you start looking for foods that are going to keep you more awake. Maybe lollies or something else that will give you a boost of energy to help with getting you through that stressful period.”

Stress eating can feel good in the moment but ultimately leaves you feeling a bit crappy. To stop stress eating or even reduce it, McLeod says there are lots of things you can do:

1. Keep an eye out for the signs of stress;

2. Avoid using food as a distraction;

'Stress eating can feel good in the moment but ultimately leaves you feeling a bit crappy.' Image: That Old Feeling, Universal Pictures

3. Drink tea instead;

4. Improve your sleep;

5. Eat well throughout the day.

You can also:

6. Avoid keeping comfort foods in the house;

7. Meet up with friends for a walk when stressed instead of going home;

8. Never shop hungry;

9. Find yourself a "stress buddy" who you call when you feel like stress eating and they can call you too;

10. Keep healthier snacks on hand for those times when just can't resist munching a little bit of your stress away, like seeds, nuts and air-popped popcorn.

If you or someone you know is suffering from eating or body-image issues contact the Butterfly Foundation on 1800 33 4673.