If you struggle with stress eating, emotional eating, or binge eating, there are three things you need to know. But first let me give you some background…

I stress/binge/emotional eat. Yep. I do. Me, the one who is about to give you advice. In fact, the reason I’m writing this article is because I shared a picture of myself sitting in a parking lot, dumping Ritz Bitz Cheese cracker in my mouth while my two young boys were asleep in the back of my minivan after a particularly stressful couple of days. However there are a few important things you should about me…

  1. I do not call myself a stress/binge/emotional eater because I avoid labels like that, but also because…see #2
  2. I rarely stress/binge/emotional eat because…see #3
  3. I have established habits/coping skills for dealing with stress that do not involve food

ONE: You are not alone.

Do a quick google search for “how to end stress/binge/emotional eating” and you will find thousands of articles on this topic. If you were the only person in the world, or even one of a few, there wouldn’t be SO MUCH information out there. And the truth is, that MOST women binge eat. In-fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if EVERY woman actually does it.

Actually, I might just go ahead and say that. My proof? Watch TV and movies. How many times do you see women on film having a junk-food fest or digging into a gallon of ice cream together after a break-up? SO. MANY. TIMES. That’s the stereotypical method for fixing stress and sadness. We’ve all seen montages of women trying to pass the time during stressful situations always includes shots of them snacking on chips at the kitchen counter, or sitting in bed eating chocolate?

Stereotypes exist for a reason. BECAUSE THEY EXIST! So, if you think for one minute that you are the only one who struggles with stress/binge/emotional eating. You’re wrong. Which brings me to the second thing you need to know…

TWO: You are not broken.

We are wired to crave food during times of stress. Particularly sugar and fat.

Wired? Yes! Wired! When we experience stress, whether it’s challenges at work, grief from a break-up (or worse), anger at a person or situation, or even just boredom (which is stressful otherwise we wouldn’t bored, we’d be content) our bodies release hormones that literally make us want to eat.

According to Harvard Medical, “Once ingested, fat- and sugar-filled foods seem to have a feedback effect that dampens stress related responses and emotions. These foods really are “comfort” foods in that they seem to counteract stress — and this may contribute to people’s stress-induced craving for those foods.”

So there you go! If those two reason right there don’t relieve some stress about stress/binge/emotional eating, I don’t know what will. Except maybe how to avoid it. Which brings me to the third think you need to know…

THREE: You can avoid, or at least manage stress/binge/emotional eating.

At least most of the time. Even though you are not alone, nor is anything wrong with you because you turn to food during times of high emotions and stress, you need to know that it doesn’t have to be that way! At least not all of the time.

I mean, sometimes it just is. Sometimes it IS going to be that way because you’re WIRED to respond to stressors with food. But there are ways to avoid it…at least most of the time!

How to avoid stress/binge/emotional eating…

Identify your triggers. AKA, the stresses in your life. Assess these stresses and determine what you can control, and what you can’t. Let go of the things you can’t. Plain and simple. You cannot control bad drivers, or dumb co-workers, or even if someone is a jerk to you– but you can control your response. You can choose to laugh them off, ignore them, or confront them– if it’s appropriate and productive to do so.

Allow yourself to FEEL. Allow yourself to be angry, sad, disappointed, bored, annoyed, frustrated, hurt, anxious. Acknowledge those feelings and accept them, knowing that you are allowed to feel however you feel.  And then…deal with those feelings! Talk about them. Journal them. If possible, have the tough conversations with the people involved. Seek professional help if your feelings are consuming you. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Practice deep breathing. When you start to feel your heart racing and your head spinning, stop a take a deep breath. Better yet, take three deep breaths. Inhale to the count of 4 and exhale to the count of 8. Establishing this one simple habit will drastically reduce your urge to eat when you’re feeling stressed. Three deep breaths and regroup. And ask yourself, “what do I really need right now?” A 10 minute break? A friend to talk to? A hug? A heavy punching bag to get out all of the pent up energy that’s coursing through my body, making me feel like I want to jump out of my own skin? You know that feeling! We all do! Take some more deep breaths.

Exercise as a preventative. Also according to Harvard Medical, “The mental benefits of aerobic exercise have a neurochemical basis. Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.” By-the-way, that cortisol hormone is the one that increases your appetite when you’re stressed so…there ya go!

Now this doesn’t mean you have to workout an hour a day five days per week. Just go for a walk. Get some fresh air. Elevate your heart-rate even just a little and you’ll do your body and your stress levels a LOT of good!

Take care of yourself. Nothing will stress you out more than feeling like your needs aren’t being met. In-fact, every stress in life that I can think of right this minute feels stressful because in those moments MY needs aren’t being met. I’m not feeling loved (relationship with myself or others), not feeling validated (by my coworkers when I offered a suggestion) not feeling like a priority (by the jerk on the freeway who wouldn’t let you over) not feeling valued (by my boss/husband for my hard work) not feeling respected (by my children). Sound familiar?

This is why we need to take care of ourselves. Spend some time alone and meet our own needs. 10 minutes in the car listening to what you want to hear on the radio. 10 minutes hiding in the bathroom with a good book. Doing a craft or task that makes you feel accomplished and proud of your own work. This isn’t about pedicures and massages. It’s about taking care of yourself and your own personal needs so you don’t have to depend on others to meet them.

Ultimately, the best way to manage stress/binge/emotional eating is to…

Forgive yourself and move on. “Forgive yourself” is actually rule number one for living a happy, healthy I’mperfect Life and it’s especially applicable here. If you find yourself stress/binge/emotional eating, forgive yourself and move on. Do not let that binge create more stress. Do not beat yourself up. Do not wait until tomorrow or Sunday, or for the stars to perfectly align so you can “start over”. That only perpetuates the cycle of diet-fail-repeat.

You are not alone. You are not broken. In fact, you’re pretty damned normal. Now forgive yourself, manage that shit, and move on.

Let go of perfection and live your best, happy, healthy, I’mperfect Life.

If you struggle with binge eating and could use some help putting an end the madness for good, let’s chat!

CLICK HERE to learn how you can schedule a free strategy/discovery call with me!

“After a very frank conversation with Andrea it was quickly discovered that I was sabotaging myself and denying a window of binge eating that I had virtually blocked out of my consciousness.” Diane G

Diane dropped 30lbs in 4 months after one VIP session with me. During our time together  I gave her the insight and tools she needed to squash her daily 4pm binge. How amazing is that!? Soooooo amazing! It makes my heart want to burst!