Whether or not you’re in a very worrying interval of your life otherwise you’re experiencing power, each day stress, it’s widespread to show to emphasize consuming (or in some instances undereating when burdened) for consolation.

That’s fully okay and regular to do! We’re human and we’ve all skilled that earlier than. We eat meals for a lot of causes, not only for bodily nourishment however due to cultural expertise, custom, social bonding, pleasure, and distractionn, stress/emotions.

Each now and again, consuming for consolation could also be precisely what you want, and that’s okay. It turns into extra troublesome when it’s one thing that you simply’re experiencing regularly, whether or not that’s month-to-month, weekly, or each day.

Uncover why stress consuming is so widespread, how mindful eating can assist you, and a few easy actions you can begin utilizing immediately to start your aware consuming journey.

What Is Stress Consuming?

Stress consuming occurs when your stress ranges are guiding what, when, and the way a lot you eat, fairly than your bodily starvation alerts. Stress consuming can manifest in two methods, overeating or under-eating.

It’s usually characterised by a lack of management round meals whereas in a burdened state. Not solely will we attain for meals once we’re feeling burdened, however we frequently lack the flexibility to attach with our our bodies and actually nourish ourselves with what we want in that second (i.e. like assessing our starvation and fullness cues).

Stress consuming doesn’t simply need to be in response to a main life occasion or intense information. It could actually additionally happen in response to day-to-day stress like work, collective worrying power, power stress that hasn’t been resolved, or not getting sufficient sleep. Keep in mind, stress can stem from optimistic stress, like beginning an thrilling new job, planning a marriage, or shifting to a brand new metropolis, too.

Stress can seem in so many alternative methods all through our lives and it doesn’t at all times appear to be one thing main or one thing detrimental.

How Stress Influences Our Meals Decisions And Leads To Stress Consuming

If you initially expertise stress, your urge for food is more likely to go down. It is because your nervous system, particularly your sympathetic nervous system (SNS), places your physique in “battle or flight” mode to answer the worrying scenario. Your mind tells your adrenal glands to launch adrenaline which will increase your coronary heart charge, sending blood to muscle tissue and your coronary heart so you possibly can take motion, briefly placing your starvation on maintain (1).

As soon as that worrying scenario or occasion passes, the SNS returns to its baseline and if the occasion hasn’t handed, the SNS will stay triggered and responding to that stress.

When this occurs, your physique releases cortisol, which is why it’s also known as the stress hormone. In contrast to adrenaline which might put a pause in your starvation, cortisol can improve your urge for food (2). In case your stress response continues to stay “on,” your cortisol ranges might stay elevated.

If you happen to’re experiencing this power stress, you’re not solely extra more likely to expertise bodily starvation, however you’re additionally extra more likely to expertise extra consolation or cravings for carbohydrates or sugary meals.

Sugar can launch dopamine — the feel-good chemical, activating the pleasure facilities of the mind (3).

All in all, stress consuming is each a physiological and psychological response to emphasize and is regular to expertise.

Why Conscious Consuming is Key to Cease Stress Consuming

One widespread response to cease stress consuming that we see in our coaching practice is folks making an attempt to avoid their comfort foods altogether or to hunt out a food plan or detox to get again on observe.

Not solely do this stuff not clear up the foundation reason behind the issue, however it may really trigger you to beneath eat or overeat and hold you on this cycle of not realizing how to deal with stress and stress consuming. Inevitably, while you’re confronted with stress once more, you’ll be extra prone to emphasize consuming.

Avoiding meals may also trigger you to develop an unhealthy relationship with meals, which takes you farther away from long-term wellbeing.

With aware consuming, our purpose is to develop into extra conscious of what we eat, how we eat, and why we eat so we will take actions that assist us higher align with what our distinctive our bodies need and want. After we do this, we’re higher in a position to get to the foundation reason behind a lot of our unhealthy eating behaviors — whether or not that’s overeating or beneath consuming or disordered consuming.

Helps You Keep away from Feeling Guilt Or Disgrace

Stress consuming can carry up a whole lot of different feelings, like guilt, disgrace, and even unhappiness and melancholy for feeling uncontrolled.

If you happen to’re making selections from a spot of feeling responsible or shameful, you’re not going to have the ability to act with the very best intentions to your long-term wellbeing.

Some of the vital issues mindfulness does is it encourages you to be compassionate with your self. If you expertise stress consuming, fairly than feeling disgrace or guilt, you carry consciousness to what you’re experiencing with out judgment. After we’re compassionate with ourselves, we will get curious — that is what I name compassionate curiosity — to discover what’s the foundation reason behind our downside and what the very best motion is to take.

Every little thing we expertise is a chance to study extra about ourselves and what we want. When you possibly can honor that, you may be compassionate with your self and take higher actions for your self than while you’re feeling responsible or shameful.

Guides You To Tune Into Starvation Indicators To Information Consuming

A part of a aware consuming apply is tuning into our starvation alerts earlier than we eat. If we don’t really feel bodily starvation, we ask ourselves why we could also be consuming or eager to eat.

That is what might help you establish while you’re stress-eating.

When you may have the attention that you simply’re stress consuming at that second, you will get extra interested by the place the stress is coming from in addition to what stress-relieving practice would higher assist you.

Start Training Extra Mindfulness And Meditation In Your Day

Meditation performs an enormous function in aware consuming. Meditation is all about gaining consciousness and perspective. It permits you to observe your ideas and emotions with out judgment.

Mindfulness and meditation additionally helps to scale back stress, so while you begin practising a aware consuming way of life, you learn to carry extra mindfulness and slowness to all that you simply do. Layering on meditation — even when it’s two minutes of deep respiration earlier than a meal — might help you deal with stress itself.

How To Cease Stress Consuming With A Conscious Consuming Follow

Broadly talking, aware consuming is a apply that permits you to be extra intentional together with your consuming habits whereas additionally sustaining a wholesome relationship with meals.

I train aware consuming in-depth in my program, however there are a number of easy issues you are able to do to get began immediately to take step one to cease stress consuming. Simply keep in mind, this can be a start line and it’s vital to have the total image of correctly use this kind of apply in your life.

1. Verify-in together with your stress ranges

If you recognize you’re prone to emphasize, begin checking in with your self and turning into conscious of the indicators of stress in your physique, like complications, missed intervals, mind fog, digestion points, and poor sleep. If you’re higher in a position to consider your stress ranges, you possibly can keep away from stress consuming by being extra proactive in taking actions that cut back your stress.

2. Tune into your starvation ranges earlier than consuming

Earlier than you consuming, pause and ask your self the place your starvation is at on a scale of 1 to 10. Are you bodily hungry? If not, what’s making you need to eat? This apply might help you higher establish while you’re stress consuming so you possibly can take different actions as an alternative.

3. Journal

You should use a reflective meals journal to jot down down why you’re stress consuming and discover when it’s taking place. A journal may also assist provide you with a spot to work by means of your stress by writing down what’s inflicting it and practising letting the stress go on to the paper and out of your thoughts.

4. Have a stress-relieving apply to show to

Create a apply that may assist you destress that you would be able to simply do every single day or each week. This could possibly be a scorching bathtub with salts and important oils, getting outdoors for half-hour on a stroll, performing some restorative yoga, or meditation. No matter it seems to be like for you, be sure you have one thing common in your calendar to fight any ongoing stress. You may flip to this apply everytime you discover your self reaching for meals for consolation.

Put This Into Follow

Getting began is at all times the toughest half. Typically all we want is somewhat additional assist!

Our free guide for create wholesome consuming habits is full of practices, journal prompts, and tricks to assist you. You too can be part of our mindful eating program.


  1. Pharmacology of appetite suppression: implication for the treatment of obesity. Halford JC. Curr Drug Targets. 2001;2:353–370.
  2. Stress, cortisol, and other appetite-related hormones: Prospective prediction of 6-month changes in food cravings and weight. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2017;25(4):713-720. doi:10.1002/oby.21790
  3. Rada P, Avena NM, Hoebel BG. Daily bingeing on sugar repeatedly releases dopamine in the accumbens shell. Neuroscience. 2005;134(3):737-744. doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2005.04.043