What should I do when I’m stressed and crave sugary and salty junk food?

Become mindful of your stressors, how you are dealing with stress and your choices. Learning new methods for stress relief will help prevent avoidable weight gain.

Managing food cravings is a simple but difficult process. In my experience, I have seen that when an individual makes a emotional judgment and gives into eating when they are not hungry it is often do to temporarily losing sight of their goal(s) and/or continuation of habits.

First, understand that there are physical needs during stressful times. Your body is burning sugar and your cravings are present so you will replace immediate energy stores. Also know that eating an Apple is a better choice than eating junk food.

Second, understand your role in the habits and choices that you have created. You MUST own your choices and your result. Look past your immediate desire and play out in your mind how you will feel while eating this “much needed” food. Play out the after effects. How do you feel once you’ve finished?

A few “rules” I have my clients to focus on is:Become Mindful

Before you begin to feel stressed is the best time to focus on how you are handling your day. Monitor your stress levels. If you are becoming “STRESSED!!!” it is time to take a break, contemplate your thoughts and actions and choose your next action. This 2-3 minute reset of thinking and breathing acts to calm you and allows you to retain focus.

Smile. It relieves stress.

Remember: staying in the stressful situation will INCREASE your stress. You must change your thinking and your actions right there.

Control your kitchen

Keep temptation out of sight. Clean the area of “junk” and create a scenario where you have to go purchase the items you want so badly. This will act to slow down your reactions. Choose fruits and vegetables first while you focus on breathing.

Know WHY you are eating what you are eating

Say it out loud – “I am eating due to stress, not hunger.”
Own the fact that you need to control your stress differently to create a long-term change.

Try these tips for controlling food cravings:

  1. Develop a mantra. Something like: “I feed my body and my needs, not my taste buds.”
  2. Ask yourself questions: “Why am I going to eat this? Is it because I actually want it and need it or am I re-actively responding to an immediate desire?”
  3. Keep focused on your goal. Post it in sight and refer to it often.
  4. Drink a glass of water to slow the decision making process down. Water can make you feel a little fuller AND it will give you something to do while deciding if you are actually going to give in to your cravings.