How to End Stress-Eating For Good
If you struggle with stress-eating, at some point you’ve wished for more willpower, but willpower will never be enough.
Here’s what’s actually happening when you stress-eat.
Something triggers your stress response.
The stress causes an unpleasant feeling in your body.
It’s uncomfortable so your first response is to numb it.
You reach for food as a coping mechanism.
It works! (Temporarily)
The stress and stressor is still there.
The cycle starts all over again.
The thing is, that as you resist the stress or use coping mechanisms to numb it, the emotion only gets stronger.
What you resist persists.
So now, not only do you still feel stressed, but you now also feel guilty for reaching for food when you promised yourself you wouldn’t do it again.
…..and that brings on shame.
Now you have a whole cocktail of emotions and food as your coping mechanism.
This is why the cycle of emotional eating happens.
Most people will tell you that you just need to have more willpower, but that’s not actually a good solution because willpower runs out.
The way to truly put an end to stress-eating is to learn to sit with your emotions, so that you can cope with your emotions without food.
You must be able to sit with your emotions, fully feel them, and allow them to process through you.
At first, it will feel uncomfortable.
Think about how long you’ve been numbing them. Learning to feel your emotions will take practice.
The more you practice, the greater your capacity to feel your emotions will get.
As you sit with your emotions and fully feel them, you’ll also want to pay attention to what you truly need.
It will be different from person to person, and from moment to moment. Perhaps you need to blow off some steam with a workout. Perhaps you need to laugh, or dance, or cry.
Your emotions actually hold powerful information about how to best take care of yourself.
And when we pause and feel, we can listen.
To be clear, the goal is not to NOT reach for food.
The goal is to cope with your emotions without food.
When you properly feel your emotions and are able to actually cope with them without food, the desire to stress-eat will no longer be there.
That means you don’t need willpower.
Isn’t that so freeing?!
The concept of “feeling your feelings” and “sitting with your emotions” can feel intangible and even frustrating, especially for someone who’s been counting calories, macros, or otherwise relying on external cues for how to eat.
Did you know that every emotion has its own physical sensation?
These sensations will be different from person to person, and what’s important is that you can identify them in your unique body.
Your ability to perceive different physical sensations within your body is called Interoceptive Awareness.
Interoceptive Awareness is at the heart of Intuitive Eating because it also involves feeling other sensations such as hunger and fullness cues.
As you practice sitting with your emotions, you also increase your ability to sense all other body cues that will be imperative for you to become an Intuitive Eater. Intuitive Eating is nuanced, and coping with your emotions without food is only one piece.
To fully feel at peace with food, we must also address the biological reasons you might be struggling with food, body image, and the cognitive distortions that are creating a complicated relationship with food.
In my 4-month program, Food & Body Freedom, stress-eating is one of the main things that I help women overcome so that they can end the struggle with food, break free from dieting, and find the mental space to truly live a life they love.
We also work on restrictive eating, binge eating, body image, struggles with exercise, empowerment, and mindset.
If you're interested, click here to request a Peace with Food Discovery Call. We'll hop on a brief phone call to make sure Food & Body Freedom is a good fit for you.