One Month Challenge: Stop Stress Eating, Final Week
[Everyone’s got a vice, a bad habit, something they know they need to change. Unfortunately, everyone also has a million excuses why they just can’t do it. Not anymore. Every month we will be following a different CollegeCandy writer as she takes on a personal challenge. Last month, Khalea gave up fried food. This month, Michelle is going to come face to face with stress eating. Can she stop the emotional ice cream binges? We'll find out....]
Ah, June. You have been a month to remember. Between trying to stop stress eating, trying to get back into working out, dealing with entering a long distance relationships and looking for a job, I’ve encountered a lot of pressure from many different directions. Along the way, I’ve written some pretty heavy articles here on CollegeCandy about confronting the reasons for my (and maybe your!) stress eating. Have I always been successful in trying to stop stress eating? Most of the time. Can I claim that I stopped stress eating completely? Not really.
Strategies that work!
As I mentioned, I had a lot going on this month… more than I expected to have going on, actually. Isn’t that how it always works though? It’s hard to plan a life, especially when you’re in college and everything is, well, hectic no matter what.
1. Staying conscious. Keep an eye on your emotions and how you feel. Remaining conscious of your real emotions can help you stop yourself from pigging out on a bag of Doritos.
2. Writing it down. Stressing out about something? Instead of stuffing down the feeling with half a loaf of bread or a piece of cake, write down how you feel instead. If it’s about something specific, write in a letter. “Dear Job Interview That Went Badly…” or “Dear Fight I Had With My Boyfriend…”
3. Get rid of temptation. Number one way not to stress eat? Don’t buy the foods you eat when you’re stressed. When I’m stressed, I go for crunchy foods: Doritos, crackers, graham crackers, cookies, etc. Whether your stress food is ice cream or cereal, if you know it will tempt you, don’t buy it. Keep the fridge stocked with healthy foods, like yogurt, carrots and apples instead. Then, if you stress eat something like carrots and hummus, it won’t be quite as bad as eating a whole box of cookies.
What has worked…
1. Cardio + Circuit training. Ah, good ol’ exercise. I will admit to the fact that sometimes I can’t exercise the stress away. However, it helps keep me from getting too stressed if I exercise regularly- usually in the morning and evening. Evening tends to be when I get the most stressed, so if I exercise in the morning and then do a brief circuit in the evening, I notice that I tend to avoid that period of anxiety and stress eating. It’s all about having some kind of schedule for it!
2. Drinking water. Does that sound weird? It feels weird to write it down. I have a tendency towards being a huge Diet Coke addict. I love Diet Coke. Living with my parents, I beg them to not put Diet Coke in the kitchen fridge (and keep it only in the fridge in the garage) so I don’t compulsively drink it. If it’s in the vicinity, I know I will not be able to choose water over Diet Coke. However, I’ve noticed that the days where I indulge in a Diet Coke, I tend to feel more anxiety in the evening and I tend to try to stress eat more. By choosing water, and drinking a lot of water throughout the day, I notice I have less anxiety and I don’t feel the need to stress eat as much.
3. Staying busy. The beginning of the summer is always really exciting, especially after a busy spring semester. For me, I always feel excited to have absolutely nothing to do. But moving back home (to a different state) and realizing that all my friends have jobs, my parents have jobs and I’ll be spending most days home alone cruising Craigslist for jobs inspires mega boredom. Not having anything to do really gets to me, anxiety-wise, and I overcompensate with stress eating. Without something to do, I can’t help but obsess over little things. Lately, I’ve been planning little activities for myself: a bike ride one day, take a walk another day, get out with my camera and take photos the day after that. Staying active, even if I have to do things alone, really helps me not stress myself out over little things.
4. …But not too busy. Sometimes, I made myself stressed by planning too much stuff. With my writing for CollegeCandy, my personal blog and doing my freelance writing all on top of planning my weekly outings for myself, helping my family, looking for jobs and going to interviews, sometimes I made myself overwhelmed by how much I planned for myself in a week. It came to a point, eventually, where I knew that while it was good for me to stay busy, there is a line between “too busy” and “not busy enough” and I had crossed it!
The Final Verdict
I’ve been able to curb my stress eating by at least half. These days, I can at least say I stay conscious about my stress eating, so when I start doing it, I can usually stop! If nothing else, I can say that I’ve accomplished the ability to remain conscious regarding my emotions and how that affects my eating habits. I used to be really good at pretending I was hungry and ignoring that I really felt anxious about something… but by training myself, and sometimes forcing myself to remain conscious of my emotions, I’ve been able to recognize stress eating for what it really is…
Stress eating, for me, is a way of manifesting my feelings about myself or a situation… and it never makes me feel better. Instead, it actually makes me feel more anxious! By being able to confront stress eating this way, intensely for an entire month, I’ve been able to get an idea of why I stress eat and how I can fix it.
I want to thank all of you for reading about my journey this month and sharing your experiences!
If you attempted to stop stress eating this month, what worked for you? What didn’t work? Did you develop any strategies that you’d like to share? Have you been able to stop stress eating completely or, like me, are you still an occasional stress eater?