How to Improve Your Relationship with Stress and Food

One major reason diet and meal plans have such a high rate of failure is because food for many people is about more than satisfying hunger. Many people use food to ease the stress they are feeling. The problem with eating to calm emotions is that it often causes the eater to feel worse. The issue causing the stress still remains, and added to this stress is the guilt of overeating.

Fortunately, there are many methods available to better deal with the stress of life and develop a healthier relationship with food.

Work It Out

People often turn to food for comfort when the many stresses of life begin to negatively affect their emotional state. However, the same rush of positive hormones obtained from eating can also be obtained through exercise.

All forms of exercise can be used as your go-to stress reliever. You should pick a sport or exercise regimen that you enjoy and practice it regularly. Regular exercise serves to produce and maintain healthy levels of neurotransmitters in the brain tasked with promoting good feelings. These neurotransmitters are referred to as endorphins.

Running is one exercise that is particularly known for providing an endorphin boost. In fact, the term ‘runner’s high’ was coined to express the good feelings that runners experience on a daily basis.

Yoga has also been singled out as an exercise that is great for dealing with stress. A number of studies have backed up claims that regular yoga practice has a positive effect on stress and anxiety.


Eat Mindfully

The human body is quite effective at signaling when it needs to be fed and when it is time to stop eating. We will often ignore these cues when we are stressed and seeking comfort from food. You can get in tune with these cues and eat in a mindful way by fully engaging your senses.


Take an extra moment to appreciate the food on your plate visually. Also, enjoy the smell of your food before eating. Remain conscious of the speed at which you eat. Eating slower will allow you to better enjoy your food. You will also have an easier time hearing the messages from your body informing you that enough food has been eaten.  

Prioritize Time for Your Health

Many people find it difficult to dedicate their attention to their diet and health when stressed or pressed for time. When you’re stressed and feeling short of time, it’s easy to let healthy eating habits slip, instead going for anything that is quick and easy to make and eat, or even neglecting to eat at all. Therefore, it is important to remember to set aside time in your life to specifically focus on all facets of your well-being. This time should not be an afterthought but a priority.


The act of preparing healthy snacks and meals ahead of time is a great first step to avoid stress eating. Take the time to pre-plan everything you will eat. Also, set aside a day and time to shop for the groceries you will need to prepare your meals.

You may find it a little difficult to maintain a continuous schedule for grocery shopping and eating at first, but it will soon become the norm for you if you continue the practice. Apps are available to help you better save and manage the time you will need to practice mindful eating.  

Authenticate Your Own Feelings

Stress eating offers a temporary relief from the issues that cause unwanted emotions. When your emotions are in a negative state, you should not seek things to suppress these feelings. Instead, allow yourself to fully feel these emotions in order to free yourself from the stress-eating cycle.


Allowing yourself to fully feel and process your own emotions will provide you with greater insight into the things that affect your stress and anxiety levels. You will then become better able to adapt strategies that bring you the satisfaction you desire.  

Pamper Yourself

Pleasure and enjoyment should be a priority in life. Do things that make you feel good. Add flavor to your water with fruit, wear clothing on your body that is soft and comfortable, and set aside time for an extra-long bubble bath. In fact, relaxing in a hot tub is a proven way to reduce stress. You only have one life, and you should enjoy every moment of it that you can.

On the occasion that the techniques used to avoid stress eating fail you and you find yourself indulging in food to relieve stress, enjoy the food you are eating. The more you focus on the pleasure provided by the food, the faster you will become satisfied by eating it.


Know Your Triggers

Once you’ve identified the triggers that cause you to seek comfort from food, you should devise strategies to manage these triggers. For example, if you know you are prone to eating when experiencing feelings of loneliness, make an entry in your journal or reach out to a friend instead.

You should also make food available to yourself at all times to avoid feeling deprived. When individuals feel deprived, they reach out to food and other things to fill this void. For this reason, it is good to find constructive ways to provide yourself with nourishment.

Fill your refrigerator with healthy snacks you enjoy to ensure that when you do eat, it benefits your mind and body. You can also plan exciting things for yourself to do on days you are free. And never forget to set aside time solely to relax. By being aware of them, you can manage your triggers.


Know Who you Are

Understanding how great you are as a person will help you avoid feelings of stress and anxiety. It will also prevent you from reaching out to things like food to alleviate the stress in your life. You should remember that you are a smart and resilient person that has always conquered the challenges life has presented to you. You should also have faith that future challenges will be conquered in the same manner. You alone are all you need to maintain the strength to face adversity, and this fact should never be forgotten.

Final Thoughts

Many people reach out to food when life stresses cause them anxiety or emotional distress. This indulgence can only result in further bad feelings to go along with the physical consequences of overeating. It is not necessary to use food as a stress reliever. In fact, making healthy and conscious choices can improve your physical and mental health The seven methods mentioned above will help you develop a better relationship between stress and food.

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