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Stress and Emotional Eating

When you’re stressed out do you eat mindlessly or not eat at all? You’re not alone. People deal with stress in different ways, but stress can often lead to emotional eating and poor dietary choices. It is important to make healthy eating a priority in order to feel your best, perform your best, and prevent nutrition related health problems.  If you tend to be an emotional eater, try to incorporate mindful eating daily (7 Mindful Eating Tips [PDF]) and develop some effective stress management techniques and coping skills so that your body stays healthy.

Eating Under Stress

Some common poor dietary choices that you may make when under stress:

  • Skipping meals
  • Over/Under eating
  • Emotional eating
  • Excessive dieting
  • Consuming large amounts of sugar, salt or fat
  • Consuming stimulants such as caffeine or energy drinks 

Eating Tips to Beat Stress

If you are mentally or emotionally stressed out, try to follow these healthy eating tips to beat stress and poor eating habits:

  • Invest in your health every morning by starting out with a balanced breakfast.  It will help you stay alert and prevent overeating later in the day.
  • Don’t skip meals - eat at least three meals a day and if possible, add a few simple snacks.  Skipping meals stresses out the body and reduces energy when you need it most.  Eating regular meals can reduce the temptation to snack on junk foods, and to eat too much in one sitting.
  • Don't binge or grab whatever is in sight. Separate eating from other activities and take the time to eat well and enjoy your meal.
  • Try to develop a normal eating schedule.  Space your meals and snacks out about every three or four hours.  Eat small more frequent meals and snacks on the go when time is a factor.
  • Limit excess consumption of sugar, salt and foods high in fat and saturated fat.
  • Avoid the use of caffeine and/or energy drinks, try exercise when you’re in need of an energy boost.
  • Drink water.

Come to the Wellness Center’s Relaxation Room to unwind or talk to a health educator or peer health educator about nutrition.