How To Stop Emotional Anxiety Eating Due To Stress

How To Stop Emotional Anxiety Eating Due To Stress

If you’re an emotional eater, you know how difficult it can be to resist the urge to reach for comfort foods during times of stress. However, emotional anxiety eating can lead to weight gain, negative emotions, and even health risks. Fortunately, there are ways to stop emotional anxiety eating and cope with stress in a healthier way.

Here are the best ways to cope with stress and anxiety symptoms.

One of the best ways to stop emotional anxiety eating is to engage in physical activity. Exercise can help reduce stress levels, improve blood flow and blood pressure, and boost your mood. Making healthier food choices, such as whole grains and foods with healthy fats like fatty fish, can help regulate blood sugar and cortisol levels, which are often disrupted during times of stress. Mindful eating, or paying attention to physical hunger and the gut-brain axis, can also help prevent emotional eating episodes.

Understanding Emotional Eating

What is Emotional Eating?

Emotional eating is a common phenomenon where people eat to cope with their negative emotions, such as stress, anxiety, sadness, and boredom. We also known it as stress eating or anxiety eating. Emotional eaters often use food as a way to soothe and comfort themselves, rather than to satisfy physical hunger.

Causes of Emotional Eating

A variety of factors can trigger emotional eating, such as:

  • Stressful situations at work, school, or home
  • Relationship problems or breakups
  • Financial difficulties
  • Traumatic events or experiences
  • Social anxiety or peer pressure
  • Lack of sleep or poor sleep quality
  • Hormonal changes during menstrual cycles or menopause

Symptoms of Emotional Eating

Some common symptoms of emotional eating include:

  • Eating when not physically hungry
  • Craving specific types of comfort foods, such as sweets, salty snacks, or high-fat foods
  • Eating in response to negative emotions, such as stress, anxiety, or boredom
  • Feeling guilty or ashamed after eating
  • Eating in secret or hiding food
  • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full or stuffed
  • Using food as a way to distract from or avoid difficult emotions

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to recognize them and seek help to develop healthy coping mechanisms and improve your overall mental and physical health.

The Link Between Stress and Emotional Eating

How Stress Affects Eating Habits

When you experience stress, your body releases the hormone cortisol, which can increase your appetite and lead to cravings for high-fat, high-sugar foods. Stress can cause you to eat quickly and mindlessly, without paying attention to your body’s hunger and fullness signals. This can cause overeating and consuming more calories than your body needs.

Why We Turn to Comfort Foods

Comfort foods, such as ice cream, pizza, and chocolate, are often high in fat, sugar, and calories, and can provide a temporary sense of pleasure and relief from stress. However, these foods can also lead to feelings of guilt and shame, as well as weight gain and negative impacts on overall health. It’s important to recognize that turning to comfort foods is a common coping mechanism for stress, but there are healthier ways to manage your emotions.

The Vicious Cycle of Stress and Emotional Eating

Stress and emotional eating can create a vicious cycle, where eating unhealthy foods leads to negative emotions and increased stress levels, which in turn leads to more emotional eating. Breaking this cycle requires identifying and addressing the underlying causes of stress and finding healthier coping mechanisms. Mindful eating, physical activity, and seeking support from a mental health professional are all effective ways to manage stress and emotional eating.

Remember, managing stress and emotional eating is a process that takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself and focus on making small, sustainable changes to your eating habits and lifestyle. By prioritizing your mental health and practicing healthy coping mechanisms, you can improve your overall well-being and break free from the cycle of stress and emotional eating.

How to Stop Emotional Eating

Emotional eating can be a difficult habit to break, but it is possible with the right strategies. Here are some tips to help you stop emotional eating and develop healthier habits:

Identify Your Triggers

The first step in stopping emotional eating is to identify your triggers. These are situations or emotions that cause you to turn to food for comfort. Common triggers include stress, boredom, loneliness, anxiety, and depression. Once you have identified your triggers, you can work on finding healthier ways to cope with them.

Find Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Instead of turning to food when you are feeling stressed or anxious, try finding other healthy coping mechanisms. Some ideas include:

  • Going for a walk or doing some other form of physical activity
  • Practicing deep breathing or meditation
  • Talking to a friend or family member
  • Writing in a journal
  • Taking a relaxing bath

Practice Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is the practice of paying attention to your food and eating habits. This can help you become more aware of your hunger and fullness cues, and can help you make healthier food choices. Some tips for practicing mindful eating include:

  • Eating slowly and savoring each bite
  • Paying attention to the flavors, textures, and smells of your food
  • Avoiding distractions while eating, such as watching TV or scrolling through your phone
  • Stopping when you feel full, even if there is food left on your plate

Make Healthy Food Choices

Choosing healthy foods can help you feel better both physically and emotionally. Some tips for making healthy food choices include:

  • Eating a variety of foods, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats
  • Avoiding high sugar and high-fat foods, which can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes
  • Incorporating probiotic foods, such as yogurt and kefir, to support gut health
  • Choosing complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice and quinoa, which can have a calming effect on the brain

Stay Hydrated

Drinking enough water is important for overall health, but it can also help reduce feelings of hunger and stress. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water a day, and try to avoid sugary or alcoholic beverages, which can dehydrate you.

Get Enough Sleep

Lack of sleep can contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety, which can lead to emotional eating. Aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night and try to establish a regular sleep routine to help your body get into a rhythm.

Incorporate Physical Activity

Physical activity is a great way to reduce stress and improve overall health. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. This can include activities such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming.

By following these tips, you can break the cycle of emotional eating and develop healthier habits that will benefit your physical and mental health in the long run. Remember, it’s important to be patient and kind to yourself as you work on making these changes. If you are struggling with emotional eating or other mental health issues, consider reaching out to a mental health professional for additional support.

Foods That Help Reduce Anxiety

When it comes to managing anxiety, what you eat can make a big difference. Certain foods contain nutrients that can help reduce anxiety symptoms and promote overall mental health. Here are some foods you may want to consider incorporating into your diet:

Whole Grains

Whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat bread, are a great source of complex carbohydrates. These carbohydrates can help regulate blood sugar levels and promote a calming effect on the brain. They also contain fiber, which can help keep you feeling full and satisfied.

Healthy Fats

Healthy fats, such as those found in nuts, seeds, and avocados, can help improve brain function and reduce inflammation. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help reduce symptoms of anxiety.

Probiotic Foods

Probiotic foods, such as yogurt and kefir, contain beneficial bacteria that can help improve gut health and reduce inflammation. Studies have also shown that probiotics may have a positive effect on mental health.

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits, are a great source of vitamin C. Vitamin C has been shown to help reduce cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone that can contribute to anxiety symptoms.

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids can help improve brain function and reduce inflammation. They have also been shown to help reduce symptoms of anxiety.

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are a great source of magnesium, which is a mineral that can help reduce anxiety symptoms. They also contain zinc, which can help improve immune function and reduce inflammation.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are antioxidants that can help improve brain function and reduce inflammation. It also contains magnesium, which can help reduce anxiety symptoms. However, be sure to choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa to get the most benefit.

Incorporating these foods into your diet can be a great way to help reduce anxiety symptoms and promote overall mental health. However, it’s important to remember that diet is just one aspect of managing anxiety. If you’re experiencing severe anxiety symptoms, be sure to seek professional help.

Foods to Avoid

High-Sugar Foods

When you experience anxiety, it’s tempting to reach for sugary treats to help you feel better. However, consuming high-sugar foods can lead to a spike in blood sugar levels, followed by a crash that can leave you feeling even worse. This can create a vicious cycle of anxiety and sugar cravings.

To avoid this cycle, it’s best to avoid high-sugar foods such as candy, soda, and baked goods. Instead, opt for whole foods that are naturally sweetened, such as fruit.

Junk Food

Junk food, such as chips, cookies, and other processed snacks, can be a go-to for emotional eaters during times of stress. However, these foods are typically high in calories, unhealthy fats, and sodium, which can contribute to weight gain and other health risks.

To avoid the negative effects of junk food, try to limit your consumption of these items. Instead, choose whole foods that are minimally processed and contain healthy fats, fiber, and protein.

Alcoholic Beverages

While alcohol may provide temporary relief from anxiety, it can actually worsen symptoms in the long run. Alcohol can disrupt sleep, increase blood pressure, and elevate cortisol levels, which can contribute to feelings of anxiety.

To avoid the negative effects of alcohol, it’s best to limit your consumption or avoid it altogether. Instead, try drinking water or herbal tea to help you relax.

Food Intolerance

Food intolerances can cause physical symptoms such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea. These symptoms can add to feelings of anxiety and stress.

If you suspect that you have a food intolerance, try to identify the culprit and avoid it. Common food intolerances include gluten, dairy, and soy. Consult with a registered dietitian or your medical professional if you need help identifying your food intolerances.

Seeking Professional Help

If you’ve been struggling with emotional anxiety eating due to stress, seeking professional help may be the best way to manage your symptoms. Here are some things to consider:

When to Seek Help

If your anxiety symptoms are interfering with your daily life and you’re finding it difficult to manage your eating habits on your own, it may be time to seek professional help. Some signs that you may need help include:

  • Eating when you’re not physically hungry
  • Binge eating or feeling out of control when you eat
  • Feeling guilty or ashamed after eating
  • Eating to cope with negative emotions
  • Difficulty managing stress levels
  • Panic attacks or other anxiety symptoms

Types of Mental Health Professionals

There are several types of mental health professionals who can help you manage your anxiety and emotional eating. These include:

  • Psychiatrists: Medical doctors who specialize in mental health and can prescribe medication.
  • Psychologists: Trained professionals who provide talk therapy and other forms of psychotherapy.
  • Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs): Professionals who provide therapy and other support services.
  • Registered Dietitians: Experts in nutrition who can help you develop a healthy eating plan.

Treatment Options

There are several treatment options available for anxiety and emotional eating. These may include:

  • Therapy: Talk therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can help you identify and manage negative thought patterns and behaviors. Get it out on the table.
  • Medication: Antidepressants and other medications may be prescribed by your medical professional to help manage anxiety symptoms.
  • Mindfulness techniques: Mindful eating and other mindfulness techniques can help you become more aware of your emotions and eating habits.
  • Lifestyle changes: Regular physical activity, healthy eating habits, and stress management techniques can all help reduce anxiety and improve overall health.

Remember, seeking professional help is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you’re struggling with emotional anxiety eating, don’t hesitate to reach out for support.


In conclusion, emotional anxiety eating due to stress is a common problem that affects many people. However, there are several ways to stop this behavior and take control of your eating habits. It is important to remember that emotional eating is not a weakness, but rather a coping mechanism that can be addressed with the right tools and support.

One of the best ways to stop emotional eating is to address the root cause of your stress and anxiety. This may involve seeking help from a mental health professional, practicing stress-relieving techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation or deep breathing, or making changes to your daily routine to reduce stress levels.

In addition to addressing the underlying cause of your stress, there are several other strategies that can help you stop emotional eating. These include:

  • Eating a healthy diet that includes a variety of whole foods, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lean protein.
  • Practicing mindful eating and paying attention to your physical hunger cues.
  • Avoiding high-sugar and high-fat foods that can cause a spike in blood sugar levels and trigger emotional eating episodes.
  • Staying hydrated by drinking enough water throughout the day.
  • Getting regular physical activity to reduce stress levels and improve overall health.

By incorporating these strategies into your daily routine, you can take control of your emotional eating habits and improve your overall health and well-being. Remember, it’s important to be patient and kind to yourself as you work to break the cycle of emotional eating. With time, practice, and support, you can overcome this behavior and live a happier, healthier life.

Martin Hamilton

Martin enjoys writing and blogging. Martin has a background in Psychology, Mindfulness Practices, and Organizational Development. Martin believes the true teacher never controls anyone's life in any way—instead, they merely explain how to advance consciousness, and that results in true personal freedom.

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