Whatever is causing your anxiety; there are several strategies to help defuse it and help you not head to the kitchen. I recently read an article called 5 Steps To Stop Eating from Stress by Rosemary Foley. A summary peppered with my thoughts is as follows.
People who overeat in response to stressful situations are actually seeking comfort and control, according to psychologist Dr. Michael J. Salamon, founder and director of the Adult Developmental Center in Hewlett, New York. “Those feeling pressured often state that they control their anger (fear, anxiety, etc.) by the amounts of food they eat,” he says. “For many people, food provides a sense of comfort when there is no one around to comfort them.” The trick is finding more healthful responses.
5 Steps To Stop Stress Eating
- Focus on alternatives that make you feel good. “Work on your self-esteem… focus on your strengths,” advises Salamon. “Increase time with the people you find supportive. If you don’t have enough of those people in your life, get out and find them!”
- Change your approach: “Someone who tends to view things as a crisis or catastrophe is more likely to experience stress than another person who views things as a challenge or a problem that can be solved,” says clinical psychologist Dr. Len Doerfler, director of the counseling psychology program of Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.
- Work out: If you’re upset, unwind with a walk instead of heading for the fridge. “Exercise (which is a ‘competing behavior’ to eating, as it would be difficult to exercise while eating!) is beneficial for reducing stress,” says Dr. Elizabeth Carll, a psychologist and stress expert in private practice in Long Island, New York.
- Do less, suggests Dr. Leslie Spencer, associate professor of health and exercise science at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. Rather than continually striving for professional success at the expense of personal interests, she recommends scaling back and enjoying hobbies and other activities simply for their own sake. “A lot of people are too busy,” she says. “Consider looking for a simple lifestyle, and seek simplicity in your lifestyle.”
- Tune into your real needs: “Ask yourself: ‘What do I want?’,” suggests psychologist Dr. Steven M. Sultanoff, president of the American Association for Therapeutic Humor. “Listen to your inner voice … then act on that rather than instinctively turning to eating.”
This gives you some insight into the daunting behavior of the stress = overeating impulse. We have been working with clients across the US in applying the Stress Less Workshops tools toward calming the mind when it comes to the compulsive food grab. This is a very complicated issue for some and can be very frightening for others. There is help in sight for regaining control of this unwanted reaction of stress leading to overeating.