Struggling with comfort eating? You probably know that you’re not genuinely hungry, but you have a snack anyway.
Ready to start breaking the cycle? Here are some tips for beating stress eating.
Are hidden beliefs playing a part?
Comfort eating is linked to your emotions. If you’re bored, feel unappreciated or are having too much stress or pressure, you may be turning to food to deal with the emotions, for example.
It can go a lot deeper than this too, and hidden beliefs can also play a big part. Maybe you’re lacking confidence and the anxiety that this creates pushes you towards comfort eating, for example.
Or maybe you believe that you have to go above and beyond and have a perfectionist mindset. You are on the fast track to burnout as a result of this.
Whatever the situation, dealing with these underlying factors is super important for helping you to stop comfort eating. Without this, you’re likely to carry on comfort eating.
At Work: Don’t eat lunch at your desk
Always tend to eat while you’re still at your desk? Multitasking means you’re not going to be paying much attention to your food and it’s gone before you know it. You’re also a lot less likely to get the message that you’re actually full, and will carry on eating.
Make a point of getting up and going elsewhere for your lunch break. Ideally, this will be somewhere that won’t offer distractions so you can concentrate on what you’re eating and being mindful with your approach.
What you eat for lunch can be really important. Filling up on protein and vegetables and good fat can help to stop you snacking.
And whatever you do, don’t work through lunch altogether. Skipping meals is a surefire way to encourage unhealthy snacking in the afternoon or early evening.
At Home: Don’t eat in front of the television.
Always tend to eat your meals while sitting in front of the television. Just like at work you’re not going to be paying much attention to your food. The goal is to pay attention to the feedback your body is giving you. If your attention is else where you’ll like miss the feedback that you are full.
Ideally, you want to sit at a table with family and friends. Of course, some of you are single but you still want to create a habit of sitting at the table. This helps create a mindfulness habit associated with your meals. You could bring a book or have some music playing.
Don’t buy unhealthy snacks
If we are the one doing our grocery shopping, we have control over what we purchase. On a practical note, it’s a lot more effort to comfort eat if we don’t have unhealthy snacks readily available. If they’re there, you’re probably going to eat them! Out of sight, out of mind.
Not taking unhealthy snacks into work is one of the easiest ways to avoid mindless snacking at work. If you do feel like snacking in between meals, swap unhealthy choices for more nutritious options. We like having lots of cut up fruit and veggies on hand.
Think carrot or pepper sticks, rollups filled with healthy choices, vegetable muffins (zucchini and carrot work well here), rather than cookies, potato chips and other fat and sugar heavy snacks.
Drink herbal tea
Staying hydrated can be super important for curbing cravings, not least because thirst can be mistaken for hunger. Water is a great choice but herbal tea can also help. There’s a lot of varieties to pick from so you’re sure to find one that helps to fight cravings, even for sweet ones. Plus, the physical act of holding the cup in your hands can distract from them too.
Keep everything unhealthy focused in one place
In the typical workplace, there isn’t a designated place for unhealthy treats and snacks and that can make it hard to stay away from them. If you don’t want to risk being tempted, see if you can persuade the powers-that-be to keep one area allocated for this so you can avoid it. You can do something similar if you work from home by keeping all of your guilty foods in one specific place … preferably one that isn’t that easy to reach for.
Get an accountability buddy
Feel like you need a helping hand to beat emotional eating? See if you can get a family member, friend, or co-worker involved – preferably one that wants to stop comfort eating too. Commit to eating a healthy, nutritious meals together and have each other’s backs when you’re struggling. Check in with each other regularly. Set small goals that each can manage.
Use visualization techniques
Walk yourself through your ideal day from a visual point-of-view and imagine yourself avoiding comfort eating. “See” yourself as a healthy, energetic person who is completely in control of their eating patterns. Use visualization techniques first thing in the morning and whenever you feel your willpower starting to wane.
Affirmations are another tactic you can use to curb stress eating. When you feel the urge to reach for comfort food, repeat positive affirmations to yourself. This can be as simple as saying “I only eat when I’m hungry” or “I have the power to control my cravings.”
Bring fear into the equation
You can also use visualization techniques to shock your mind into ditching comfort eating. Think about one of the major downsides that could happen as a result of your eating habits. For example, obesity and serious health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease could be your trigger. Whatever you choose as the shock factor, let your imagination run wild as you visualize what this would mean in reality. If you bring enough fear into your visualization and make it seem as though it will be all too real if you go ahead and comfort eat, it should be make snacking seem much less appealing!
Would love to hear if you have any other tips to beat comfort eating.