Do you struggle with stress eating? Has emotional eating become a habit? You are not alone. The American Psychological Association reports that 27% of adults engage in stress-eating behavior. Many of these emotional eaters find that the behavior has become a comfortable habit. But this comfortable habit can lead to physical illness and mental issues.

Knowing how to beat stress eating is the first step in breaking the bad habit. As stress looms, you might reach for food and that rush of relief and comfort when you eat something fatty or salty. Your brain views this as a reward and provides you with a release of feel-good chemicals, making it harder to break the habit.

How to Stop Stress Eating

The following is a list of tips to stop stress eating in its tracks.

Ask if you are truly hungry.

When hit with the urge to eat, ask yourself if you are hungry. Does your stomach feel empty, or is it growling? Feelings of emptiness are expected when it is time to eat. However, if you recently finished a meal, your emotions might be trying to override the fullness sensation. Hold off until you can eat another meal in three to four hours.

Eat on a regular schedule.

Grazing on foods throughout the day will keep your blood sugar high, increasing the likelihood of a blood sugar crash later. Try to eat on a regular schedule of every three to four hours to keep blood sugar stable.

Drink water.

You may crave salty foods if you are not hydrated. Aim for at least eight glasses of water daily or as your physician recommends. Try carrying a tumbler of water throughout the day. If you do not like plain water, opt for add-ins such as fresh fruit or water flavorings.

Eat nutritious food.

To keep cravings at bay, lean toward nutritious foods most of the time. Aim for lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. Protein will anchor your meal and when combined with healthy fats can keep you feeling full longer.

You can still live a little.

If you always avoid your favorite foods, the cravings for them will intensely grow, especially while stressed. Instead, eat nutritious foods 80% of the time and allow yourself your favorite not-so-healthy fare the other 20%. If you plan to eat what you crave in a day or two, that might keep you from indulging mindlessly.


A natural appetite suppressant is exercise. Start your morning with 20 to 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise to get your heart pumping, strengthen muscles, and reset your hunger cues. Plan your protein-rich meals for when you do get hungry.

Learn to walk away.

Resisting the impulse to eat emotionally is like working a muscle group with exercise. When you work a muscle, it grows stronger over time. Your resistance is like a muscle; the more you walk away from the habit of stress eating, the stronger your response will grow. It will become easier over time to not give in.

Use counseling to beat stress eating.

Bad habits can be hard to break. Sometimes, the habits are ingrained in us from childhood and require professional help to move forward. Call our office today or complete the contact form to schedule an appointment with a counselor at Redding Christian Counseling in California. We can help you get your stress eating under control.

“Stress-eathing”, Courtesy of Getty Images,, Unsplash+ License; “Ramen”, Courtesy of Artem Labunsky,, CC0 License


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