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Do You Suffer From Stress Eating?

Many of us are guilty of reaching for that pastry or finishing off our children's dinner when we are not even hungry. If you get triggered by stress and reach for food when the going gets tough, these top tips from Emotional Eating and Weight Loss Coach, Natassia DSouza will help get you on the right track

By Natassia Dsouza, Emotional Eating and Weight Loss Coach

For many years, and just like many other professionals, I have had my share of stress. I’ve been dealing with deadlines, difficult co-workers and the pressure of competing in an increasingly competitive job market. Unfortunately, one of the ways I coped with this stress is by stress eating.

At first, I thought stress eating was an okay way to cope with how I felt. After all, it seemed like an easy way to fill the void and satisfy my cravings. I would often find myself reaching for a snack in the middle of the day or after a particularly stressful meeting. I found that I could temporarily forget about the stress and anxieties that had been building up throughout the day. I soon realized that what I was doing was no different from my fellow colleagues that stepped out of the office for a smoke after our meetings.

Eventually what started off as one snack turned into large amounts of fast food or bakery delicacies even when I was not physically hungry and left me feeling a lot of guilt and shame after I was done.

The primary motivation for why people stress eat is to cope with negative emotions such as anxiety, depression, anger, and boredom. It is thought that stress eating can be used as a distraction from stressful feelings, as well as providing a sense of comfort and pleasure.

As if that wasn’t enough for me to realise that I am using food as a coping mechanism, I also came across several studies that found women are more likely to engage in stress eating than men with some estimates suggesting that women are up to twice as likely to do so. This is because women tend to experience stressful events more intensely than men and have a higher tendency to use food as a coping mechanism. In addition, research has also found that women are likely to crave unhealthy, calorie-dense foods during times of stress while men are more likely to turn to alcohol or smoking.

It wasn’t long before I realized that stress eating was not a healthy coping mechanism. Not only was it doing nothing to help me manage my stress but it was also contributing to my weight gain. I knew that I needed to find a better way of dealing with the anxieties that I was facing and after years of trial and error, here are my top five stress-eating solutions:

  1. Identifying triggers: Identifying the situations and emotions that led to stress can help you prevent it.

  2. Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help to prevent hunger and cravings.

  3. Healthy Snack Drawer: having healthy and nutritious snacks on hand can help to prevent stress eating.

  4. Movement: Regular movement whether it be walking around the office, a Zumba class on your lunch break or a workout before or after work can help to reduce stress and improve your mood.

  5. Meditation: Even if it’s just taking five minutes to step away from your desk, breathing deeply and calming your mind can help to better cope with stress.

Although I still see myself wanting to stress eat from time to time, I am much better at managing it and now teach my clients how to do exactly the same. I find that engaging in any of the above five solutions allows me to stay centred and take my mind away from the daily stressors.

For more information and questions on how to overcome stress eating, overeating and binge eating you can reach me at

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