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How to Deal with Stress Eating During Difficult Times

How to Deal with Stress Eating During Difficult Times


If you haven’t done your share of stress eating during difficult times, I’d be surprised. During challenging times, many of us turn to comfort foods and overeating, often in an attempt to numb our rough feelings. There are ways you can deal with emotional eating including how to manage it, working through tough times and what you can eat instead.

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Stress Eating During Difficult Times

It’s been a rough few weeks. Do you find yourself stress eating to get through the day? It can be helpful to figure out what is your trigger to emotional eating. Why are you choosing certain foods? At what times of day are you tempted to eat? And exactly why are you eating in the first place? Knowing these emotional triggers can help get you back on track. Stress is absolutely one of the things that sabotage weight loss.

My emotions have been ALL over the place lately, as I’m sure yours have! I’m vacillating between frustration and annoyance at the current situation, all while trying to maintain calm and peace in a house with 4 kids. And when my eating schedule is off, then suddenly I’m “hangry” (you know, hungry and angry!).

Since I’ve been struggling with stress eating, I know you probably have as well. But this is the perfect time to better ourselves and pull out of the wallowing. It’s not the time to pack on the pounds but a time to emerge and break free of old habits! I have a bunch of ideas you can try if you find yourself stress eating during difficult times. I’m proud to share that in 17 days of self-isolation with my kids, I was able to lose 2 more pounds*! * Avg. weight loss 1-2 lbs/week for members following the program.

The Blessing of Human Contact

I’ve been following the Jenny Craig weight loss program for several months. One of my favorite parts of the week is receiving my one-on-one consultation phone coaching call. It’s a way to talk about the week including ups and downs, my results and of course, anything that might be causing me to hit a weight loss plateau.

I confessed to my Jenny Craig counselor, during our phone check-in that I’d been doing a bit of stress eating this past week. While it only affected my weight by a few ounces, because of the added BLT (Bites, Tastes & Licks), I didn’t lose anything either. She asked me what foods I’d been indulging in outside of the Jenny Craig menu and made this helpful suggestion.

I was to write down everything (even a bite) on my Jenny Craig menu tracking. In addition, I needed to figure out the calorie count for these items so I could really see exactly how much I was overindulging. My counselor even suggested that I write down the item BEFORE I eat it so give me the extra time to stop myself before I ate.

Know Your Emotional Eating Go-To

I told my Jenny Craig counselor that my go-to was a small bowl of trail mix, about a 1/2 cup, equal to 320 calories and 20 grams of fat. The salty-sweet combination satisfies me and it’s always what I reach for in the pantry. Ideally I wouldn’t even have trail mix in the house but my husband packs it in his lunch.

My counselor and I decided that I would write “Trail Mix = 350 calories” at the top of my Jenny Craig menus. Seeing that calorie count before I eat the trail mix has stopped me from eating it many times since doing this! (In fact, I haven’t eaten it one time since doing this).

Here are a few other tricks to use when you find yourself mindlessly eating:

  • If you aren’t already journaling what you eat, I suggest starting. Write it ALL down, even the small things. If you find yourself not losing (or gaining), you’ll be able to know why.
  • Write a list of all your stress eating go-to foods. Then write down the calorie count for the amount that you usually eat. Be aware of the actual serving size when writing down the calculations (for instance, the serving of trail mix is 1/4 cup but I usually serve myself 1/2 cup).
  • Make a note and put it on your go-to cheat foods. I used a sticky note to write TRAIL MIX IS 320 CALORIES and put it on the bag. Seeing that note with the calorie count is enough to make me pause and redirect. 

Buy Things You Don’t Like

One of the tricks I’ve used is not buying things that I know are a food weakness for me. I love pastries and having them in the house is going to be my downfall. So if I get pastries as a special treat, I buy one each for the kids and that’s it. I also buy chips for their lunches in a flavor I don’t like.

I make it a habit not to buy things that are a downfall for me. Not having my favorite ice cream in the house means I’m not eating it! If the rest of the family enjoys certain foods, consider purchasing items that aren’t a temptation for you. Not having it around (or in a flavor you don’t like) minimizes your opportunities for stress eating.

Things to Eat Instead

Being on the Jenny Craig weight loss program, what I should be eating is easy. I should just stick to the menu plan! I’m on the Rapid Results menu and all the guesswork is taken out for me to make sure I’m getting a healthy balance and staying within the proper amount of calories each day. If you find yourself bored on a weight loss program, you might start digging into the pantry more often.

So when you’re craving something or just want to munch, what foods should you reach for? Fortunately Jenny Craig menu offers snacks that are salty and sweet, to hit that comfort food need, all in appropriate serving sizes. These healthier alternatives can help satisfy without a heavy hit to your calorie count for the day:

  • Craving crunchy? Reach for an apple, baby carrots, rice cake, celery or roasted chickpeas.
  • Wanting a salty snack? Plain unbuttered popcorn, edamame, a salted hard boiled egg or a small square of cheese.
  • Sweet treats? Low-sugar yogurt, berries, fruit-enhanced water, sugar-free gelatin or pudding.

Controlling What You Can

In times where you feel like life is spinning out of control, there’s one thing you can control. YOU are in complete control of what you eat. There is nobody force-feeding you. You alone decide what to pick up and put into your mouth. Stressful times or not, what you’re eating is ONE thing you can control and that’s a powerful thing! 

I’ve personally found it difficult to find my favorite greens and berries in stock at the grocery store. As a result I’m choosing to eat other fruits and vegetables than my usual go-to. I can’t control what’s available in the stores. But I’m able to work with what I can get, and continue to eat healthy fruits and veggies.

Create a Distraction

Yes, it feels a bit like being stuck in the movie Groundhog Day lately. Each day is only slightly different than the one before! And in all that sameness, you might find yourself reaching for food and grazing all day to fill the spaces of boredom in your day. Seek out new distractions that keep you busy and out of the kitchen!

Look for activities that aren’t only good for your waistline but also good for your soul. Sure, binge-watching television and chatting on social media passes the time. But it’s also conducive to snacking and overeating. Walking outside, exercise, reading a book, sewing, gardening, art projects and journaling are all excellent choices to fill your days. 

Stick to a Routine

You’re used to waking at 5 am and going to bed at 9 pm. But this sudden shift is resulting in late nights and sleeping in. If you’re eating your meals at hours that are different than your normal pattern, try working towards getting back on routine. That doesn’t mean you can’t occasionally sleep in late but make sure that you’re still getting a decent night’s rest most of the time. 

Jenny Craig chocolate muffin with yogurt & berries is a balanced breakfast

Make notes of your scheduled meal times and see if you can get back on track. This may explain why you’re hitting the pantry for a snack at odd hours or scavenging for food late in the evening. If late night snacks are affecting your weight loss journey, aim to get to bed earlier so your tummy isn’t grumbling at midnight (when you should really be asleep in bed!)

What Are You REALLY Feeling?

Getting in touch with your emotions is definitely at the heart of emotional eating, whether it’s stress, anxiety, overwhelming feelings, or frustration that’s causing the indulgences. If what you’re really feeling is hunger, then it’s okay to eat. Jenny Craig truly makes it easy, with tasty menus and snacks delivered directly to my house. I just follow the day’s plan and eat accordingly. 

At the moment, this period of self-isolation is sure to cause many to turn to food. But it’s not too late to turn this all around. Jenny Craig has shifted gears in this time to truly help those at home with their weight loss experience. Home delivery and curbside pick-up is making it easy for new members to join up today. One-on-one phone consultations offer support at home, every step of the way! Read more about the things to do before starting a weight loss program.

Tomorrow is Another Day

So you had a stressful day and you overindulged. Tomorrow is a new day and another chance to start fresh. Take the leap and make the changes now. You’ll feel better inside and out, I promise!

* Avg. weight loss 1-2 lbs/week for members following the program.

This post was sponsored by Jenny Craig but the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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