Stress eating is emotional eating.  When the body is stressed it increases cortisol production.  High levels of cortisol increases cravings for sugary and salty foods.  You crave chocolate and ice cream not just because they taste good, but also because stress eating is the bodies attempt to stop the chronic stress.  So what do you do?  Keep an eye on your triggers, develop a plan, and deal with your stress.

Medical-weight-loss-nyUnderstand the Cravings

Foods like chocolate cause a release of endorphins which make you feel good.  So, when you are having a difficult day filled with stress, or your body’s cortisol levels get high, you begin to crave foods like chocolate and fries.  You may even feel anxiety and/or pain as your body believes that it needs these foods.  Studies show that an increase in stress is linked to an increase in fat storage in the body and consequently an increase in weight gain.

Eat Healthy

The best way to curb hunger and emotional eating is to have a plan.  Never skip a meal.  Skipping meals is counterproductive to weight loss and to curbing your cravings.  Having a plan to make healthy food choices will help salvage your day.  Allow yourself small portions of comfort foods.  Attempting to give up all your favorite comfort foods instantly will create an obsession.  However, if you allow yourself small amounts of these foods the novelty will eventually wear off and you will no longer crave or desire them.

Create a Plan

Emotional eating is a way to avoid your feelings.  Develop a plan to deal with any cravings you might have.  First, drink a glass of water.  Water can help the craving to subside if the body isn’t truly hungry.  Then, if you still need to eat something, try snacking on pretzels, baked chips, carrot sticks, or crunchy fruits, like apples.  Keeping these readily on hand will help satisfy your cravings without blowing your calorie intake for the day.

Deal with your Emotions

Ultimately, to stop this endless cycle you need to deal with the underlying stress.  Try writing in a journal.  Talk to someone close to you.  Attempt to eliminate the source of the stress.  Consider seeking medical help, especially if you have a family history, or if you have been struggling with high levels of stress for a long time.

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