Most of us have tucked into a pint of ice cream when we're frazzled, or suddenly craved French fries. Eating is one of the most common ways women soothe their stress— in fact 43 percent of women and 32 percent of men admit to self-soothing with food in the past month, according to The American Psychological Association. "When we eat, we release oxytocin, which is a feel-good hormone. This is the same kind of hormone that's released when we're holding a puppy or kissing someone we love," explains registered dietitian Torey Armul, MS, RDN, a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Finding non-food ways to manage your stress (like exercise and meditation) will help you avoid stress eating— and these strategies from Armul can, too.
Address the problem head-on.
"We eat when we're stressed, but usually there is something that's directly causing us to stress-eat," says Armul. Speak with that person who is causing you stress, or directly confront the situation that's worrying you. "That's a first step."
Listen to your appetite.
"Often I see stress-eaters avoid food for certain parts of the day and then binge. Don't let yourself ever get starving, make sure you're eating throughout the day, to help stop you from bingeing on high fat, high sugar meals."
Learn to love healthy snacks.
In addition to eating throughout the day, make sure you're snacking mindfully. "Anything from greek yogurt to string cheese to slices of deli meat— these are all delicious and healthy snacks," says Armul.