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Breaking Free from Emotional & Stress Eating: A Quick Guide

Hey, how'd that TimTam packet get empty? I think we both know. When stress hits, it's easy to turn to food for comfort. But emotional eating isn't the answer, my friend. It's a slippery slope to weight gain, self-judgment and unhealthy habits. So, if you're sitting with an empty TimTam packet right, now come break the stress eating cycle with me. Trust me, I've been there too. So let me share with you some simple ways to find healthier ways to cope with the ups and downs than binging on chocolate biscuits. I got you, girl!


Breaking Free from Emotional & Stress Eating: A Quick Guide  |  Eat Nourish Glow
Breaking Free from Emotional & Stress Eating: A Quick Guide | Eat Nourish Glow

Being a mums or modern day woman is a rewarding can come with its fair share of stress and overwhelming emotions. As a result, many women and mums find themselves trapped in the cycle of emotional and stress eating, using food as a source of comfort and escape.


In this blog post, we'll explore the concept of stress eating, its impact on our well-being, and practical strategies to help stressed-out women and mothers recognise and overcome this unhealthy pattern. It's time to prioritise self-care, regain control, and embrace a healthier relationship with food.


Why Do We Stress Eat?


Emotional eating is where you turn to food to cope with big, stressful or overwhelming emotions. Whether it's stress, sadness, anxiety, or even boredom, food becomes a temporary source of comfort and distraction. Unfortunately, this behavior can have long-term consequences on our physical and emotional well-being. It's important to recognize the signs of emotional and stress eating and take steps to address it.


Emotional eating is eating as a way to suppress or soothe negative emotions, such as stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness and loneliness. Major life events or, more commonly, the hassles of daily life can trigger negative emotions that lead to emotional eating and disrupt your weight-loss efforts. - Mayo Clinic

Stress Eating Symptoms


So now that we know stress eating is an unhealthy habit, we need to learn ways to break they cycle. This requires you to first learn to recognise when you are stressed-out and in the head space where you tend to reach for food for comfort. Some common symptoms of stress eating include mindlessly snacking to fill a void, soothe upset or satisfy an nagging feeling. You may find that you get strong cravings for sugary, fatty or high carb comfort foods, and feel a flare of anger if you cannot satisfy the specific craving - a common red flag. Most often, you'll notice that you feel guilty and frustrated at yourself for indulging after eating (instead of calm and nourished).


But don't worry, you're not alone! Many people, especially stressed out mothers, turn to food as a way to cope with chronic stress. The good news is, there are many simple ways to start managing stress without turning to food as a remedy. So, next time you feel the urge to stress eat, take a deep breath and be glad you are now aware of the problem. Now, you can start (with this very blog post) to learn and experiment with different coping mechanisms.


How Do I Stop Stress Eating?


To stop emotional and stress eating, it's crucial to really get under the hood and understand your personal triggers and the emotional states that lead to this behavior. Ask yourself:


  • do I reach for food when I'm not physically hungry? How often?

  • be honest: am I eating to numb or distract myself from certain emotions?

  • has the food craving hit me after something upset me or stressed me out?

  • when was the last time I ate? If its less than 3hr ago, its likely stress eating.

  • what food stuff am I craving? Is it fatty, carbs, or sugar?

  • do I suddenly feel more angry or upset if I was to deny myself this mini binge?


By bringing awareness to these patterns, you can begin to distinguish between physical hunger and emotional cravings. Answering these questions in the moment can be very helpful in recognising emotional eating behavior.


HEALTHY IDEA: Screenshot this section (above) to your phone for reference on the go.


What To Do Instead Of Emotional Eating?


Awareness is the starting point. So by simply clicking on this article, you are already showing you are aware some of your eating habits might need tweaking - I've already got my pompoms ready to cheer you on! Start practicing mindful eating. To do this you slow down and start to pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations before and while eating. This can help you identify your emotional triggers and become more attuned to your body's needs. Are you really hungry (has it been 3hours?) or emotionally hungry?


IDEA: Keeping a food and mood journal can also be helpful. By tracking what you eat and how you feel before and after meals, you can identify patterns and make connections between your emotions and eating habits. If you'd like one to practice mindful eating, click here.


What Can Replace Stress Eating?


Instead of always turning to food, master alternative ways to manage your stress and big emotions. You can start by trying in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as going for a walk with a dear friend or pet, practicing meditation or joining a yoga class, or even by self-care journaling your thoughts and feelings. Also seek support from friends, family, or a therapist like myself, who can provide guidance and understanding.


Taking Better Care Of Yourself


I get it, as a mum to five Life can be hectic as all f*** most days. But you still need to prioritise your own needs, not just everyone else's. Balance right? So the first pace to start this is by choosing balanced meals with wholesome, nutrient-rich foods. If you are well-nourished, you'll naturally be less likely to binge eat or indulge in impulsive junk foods snacks.


Focus on the habit of deeply nourishing your body on the daily rather than using food as a means to escape or suppress emotions. Get better at listening to your body's hunger and fullness cues, and practice mindful, intuitive eating. This means eating when you're hungry and stopping when you're satisfied.


Incorporate self-care practices into your daily routine. Make sure you're getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, and taking time to relax and recharge. Self-care is not selfish; it's essential for your overall well-being.


Self-Care & Emotional Eating


Remember that self-care is not a luxury; it's a necessity, especially for us stressed-out mums wearing a million hats a day. Take time for yourself and engage in self-care activities that bring you joy and fulfillment outside of food. Explore your passions, connect with your inner self, and cultivate a positive body image. Embrace self-love and self-acceptance, knowing that you are worthy of care and well-being.


As a stressed-out mum, it's crucial to recognise and address emotional eating patterns to ensure your well-being, fulfilment and overall happiness. By understanding the triggers of stress eating, practicing mindfulness and self-care, and implementing healthy coping strategies, you can break free from emotional eating and develop a healthier relationship with food and yourself.


Remember, self-care and self-compassion are essential on this journey. You deserve to prioritise your well-being and find alternative ways to manage stress and emotions. Start taking small steps today towards a more balanced and nourished life—one where food becomes nourishment, not an emotional crutch. You've got this!


Healthy + happiness,

Emma Lisa xx


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