You’re certainly not alone right now if the habit of stress eating is stressing you out. In the middle of a global pandemic, millions of people are struggling with the same thing. Persistent stress raises the level of Cortisol in your body, which is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. An increase in Cortisol can ramp up your appetite as well as your motivation to eat.
At the Obesity Action Coalition’s (OAC) recent Your Weight Matters Virtual Convention, guest speaker Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, CSSD, LDN, had some great advice for combating stress eating and learning to feel in charge of food. We’ve summarized just a handful of her “Become a Food BOSS” tips below that we think you’ll find useful.
Stress Eating = Temper Tantrum
One novel piece of advice that Dawn Jackson Blatner gave was to try thinking about stress eating as an adult temper tantrum. When a child has a temper tantrum, there are usually one or more factors involved: hunger, tiredness, and emotional distress. These are things that adults should take into consideration, too.
Tip 1: Eat Regular Meals.
Eating regular meals will help control your blood sugar, curb hunger and promote satiety. If you eat regularly, you are far less likely to feel the temptation to stress eat later on.
Tip 2: Work on Sleep Hygiene.
Sleep is one of the most restorative things we can do for our body. Practice good sleep hygiene by going to bed at the same time every night, waking up at the same time every morning, putting away your devices, and doing sleep meditation.
But even with these things in place, tantrums still happen. Dawn Jackson Blatner also offered some advice on what to do if the above prevention tips aren’t enough. If you’re facing the urge to stress eat, you’ve already started, or it already happened, take some time for self-reflection and ask a few questions.
Tip 3: Check in with Yourself.
First, take a time out. It will give you space to calm down and think about things. Then, ask yourself what’s wrong. Did you get a bad phone call? Watch something on the news? Get in a disagreement? Facing a big deadline that is fast approaching? Once you figure out what’s wrong, brainstorm ways you can fix it.
Work on Your Body Satisfaction
The other thing you can do to work on stress eating is increasing your level of body satisfaction. The better the relationship you have with yourself, the better the relationship you will have with food. Don’t confuse this with body positivity, though. You can think of body satisfaction of being like “body neutrality,” which is just about improving the relationship you have with yourself.
Tip 4: Work on Body Satisfaction.
You can increase body satisfaction by making a stronger commitment to self-care. Make time for loving movement that you enjoy and reap the other benefits of exercise, stop judging others, and stop judging yourself.
We hope you found these tips to be helpful and we encourage you to incorporate these behavioral strategies into your everyday life. But on top of that, remember that it’s okay if you are struggling and try to be gentle with yourself. If stress eating is a challenge right now, try to think of the problem objectively by using Dawn Jackson Blatner’s tips above. For more information about stress eating, Click Here.