[PODCAST EPISODE 48] How to Stop Stress Eating

Oct 14, 2021
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About the show:
Is your stress at an all-time high lately? If it is, you're not alone. Many people are feeling this way. And many people are eating because of that stress. Listen to this episode to learn how to stop stress eating and feel better. You'll learn a simple strategy that I use everyday in my own life and one that I teach my clients. You won't want to miss this episode. 


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Read the full episode transcript below:

Welcome to the Weight Loss Before and After Pregnancy Podcast. The place you’ll get simple strategies you can apply to your life today to start losing weight. Strategies that’ll help you reach your goal, move on with your life, and focus on the things that matter most to you. I’m your host, Certified Life and Weight Coach, Andrea Scalici. Let’s get started.

Hey, everybody. Welcome to episode 48.

Today, we're going to talk about how to stop stress eating. Such an important topic for us to talk about. Especially this time of year with the kids back in school, COVID is still going on, there are so many things happening in the world right now. Many people are at all time high levels of stress in their lives and many people are eating because of that stress. So I really wanted to address it here on this podcast.

The first thing I want you to ask yourself is...

Do you eat when your kids are yelling at you and screaming and out of control?

Do you eat when your husband or partner gets home later than you expected?

Do you eat when your mom or dad or your in-laws or somebody else in your family criticizes you or your parenting style?

Do you eat when your coworker brings donuts into work to celebrate something or just because they wanted to bring donuts into work? 

Do you eat when you go on a date with your spouse and you have a babysitter at home? So it's been like a year or two since you've had a babysitter, you get out "Finally, freedom?" You go on a date with your spouse and then you kind of overdo it at the restaurant in terms of what you ate.

Do you eat when you're alone in your house and you have the TV on? And you're finally feeling like you can have a little alone time, a little space, a little time to just do whatever you want. You're not having to take care of your kids or your spouse or your house or anything. You're just alone in your house with yourself, with the TV on, eating and just doing whatever you want, just relaxing.

And do you eat when you feel lonely, when you feel alone? Does that feeling of being lonely or alone make you feel sad and want to eat more food?

There are so many situations in our lives that cause us to feel emotions, including stress. Being a mom, having a house to take care of, laundry, dishes, everything, getting the kids ready for school, growing your family, having a husband or partner, dinner, bath, bedtime routine, everything, all of it. There is so much to do. There is so much going on that it can cause a lot of emotions, including stress.

At least that's what we think. That's what we feel in the moment.

But I have really good news for you. And the first time you hear me say this, you might not believe me. You might want to fight with me or argue with me and tell me that it's not true, but it is true. So here's what I want to tell you. Here is the good news about stress and stress eating.

All of these situations in your lives with your kids, your house, your husband, partner, all of these things, your job, your coworker, the donuts, everything, all of these things are not the reason that you're feeling stressed and they are not the reason that you're eating when you're not truly physically hungry. They are not the reason that you're overeating or eating off your plan.

You may want to argue with me. You may want to fight with me about this, but I want to tell you that it really is good news because you have little to zero control over all of these situations in your life, right? Zero to little control. So if these are the reasons that you feel stressed and overeat or eat when you're not really physically hungry, then you have no control, right? That is terrible. That is so disempowering. And it doesn't allow you to feel better, reduce your stress, and change your eating habits.

So if you can just go with me for a minute. And just pretend that you are just open just a little bit to the idea that these situations in your life are not the cause of your stress or your eating. You have the ability to change your stress and your eating. Not your kids, not your husband, not your partner, not your coworker, not anything else outside of you here. You have the ability to change your stress level and your eating.

And in this episode, I'm going to share with you one simple strategy for how to do that.

Are you ready? Okay.

The first thing that you must do is be aware. You're not going to be able to change how you feel or what you're doing, if you're not aware of what you're feeling and what you're doing. So you have to know first and foremost, that you're feeling stressed and you want to eat because of it.

Second, when you're aware of this feeling inside of your body in the moment before you eat, process that feeling while having compassion for yourself.

Processing feelings is not something we're taught as kids. Sometimes we're taught to avoid our feelings, or push them down, stuff them down, don't feel them, it's not okay. But none of that is true. It is okay to feel whatever you're feeling. It is okay to process it and look at it and really have compassion for yourself the entire time.

Once you're aware and you've processed your emotion with compassion, then you reframe the situation. So this is number three. First, awareness. Second, process the feeling with compassion. And third, reframe the situation, by asking yourself, "Is there a better way that I can look at this situation?"

I'm going to run through a quick example from my own personal life and how I have managed this just this morning. This morning, the morning that I'm recording this podcast episode, my husband and I were getting both kids out the door. Enzo, my almost five-year-old son was going to school. And Nico, my five month old son, was going to daycare.

My husband and I both had a bunch of things to do to get the kids out, to get ourselves ready for the day, and out the door on time. So I had created a checklist for us a few days ago. We have this checklist on a refrigerator that tells us exactly what needs to be done for Enzo, for Nico, and for my husband and I, and we just check the stuff off as we go.

But I did notice this morning when I was doing all of the things that I started to feel very stressed out. I started to feel very overwhelmed and frustrated and annoyed and you know, just, I felt like everything was out of my control. Nothing was going right. Everything was out of my control.

And immediately, I became aware of what I was feeling. I said to myself, "Oh, I noticed that I'm feeling stressed right now. And this is really not helping me get my kids out the door, get myself ready for the day, working as a team with my husband and saying goodbye to him the way that I want to this morning. It's really not helping me get my day started off right."

So what I need to do first is, now that I'm aware, I need to process this feeling while having compassion for myself. And the compassion comes from the thoughts of like, "I'm doing the best I can. I am a good mom. Everything is going to be okay. Everybody's going to get where they need to go."

That compassion needs to come from thoughts that the situation is okay. I am okay. Everything is going as it should. Nothing has gone wrong.

I just need to process this feeling, feel it all the way through and get it out of my body. I'm not going to avoid the feeling of stress. I'm not going to eat because of this feeling of stress. I'm not going to yell at my kids or yell at my husband or anything else. I'm going to process this feeling inside of my body.

And there are many different ways to do this. There's many different styles of processing emotion. For me. I like to identify where I'm feeling it in my body.

For me, stress starts in my chest and it feels very hard. It feels very tight. It feels almost like a tiny bit of pain. I feel like my breathing starts getting heavier and I feel like as I process it, it starts moving up towards my throat, into my shoulders, up my throat, in the back of my neck. It starts to feel very tight and uncomfortable. And almost like I have a hard time swallowing in my throat.

So I just find where is this feeling in my body? I describe to myself what that feeling feels like. I breathe through it and allow myself to feel it because avoiding it or eating because of this feeling just makes the feeling kind of linger in my body longer than it needs to. So if I do the work to like focus on this feeling, focus on where it is in my body, describe it to myself, breathe through it, it really comes out of me within 60 to 90 seconds.

Processing an emotion happens in like 60 to 90 seconds. It's very quick. And sometimes we think, "I don't have time to do that. I don't have time to stop for 60 or 90 seconds to process my emotion."

But if we don't, we might find ourselves yelling at our kids, yelling at our husband or partner, having a terrible morning which bleeds into the rest of our day. You know, it's just not worth it.

And I've practiced processing emotion and gotten so good at it that I don't even need to stop what I'm doing with the world around me in order to process it. So I might be getting my son's bag ready for school or his lunch ready or something like that while I'm processing it. And I don't even have to stop what I'm doing or lose time. It is so worth it.

So this morning there was all this stress, all of these things happening, my thoughts were out of control. My thoughts were what was causing the stress, not the situation. I became aware of the stress. I had compassion for myself. I processed that feeling by focusing on it. And then I was able to get into the mindset of reframing the situation.

I asked myself, "Is there a better way to look at this?"

And the answer for me was yes. My husband and I finished working together to get both of the kids to school. And as he was driving to work and I was driving back home, cause I work from home in my home office, I called him and I talked to him about it. I said, "This morning felt really stressful. I had a whole bunch of thoughts of that were very stressful. And I want to talk about how we can reframe this."

Because I know he was feeling stressed too.

I said, look, having both of the kids in school is still very new to us. We're still all getting used to our new routine. We still have some things that we could work out with that checklist we made. We could start preparing some of the stuff at night, the night before, like my son's lunch, things like that.

There are things that we can do, actions we can take, to help the situation be better. But at the same time, we both need to work on our thoughts in these situations because our thoughts are what's causing the stress.

When we think it's not going as we planned, or when we think our five-year-old son should be getting dressed by himself quicker or focusing on getting dressed quicker, or he's not eating his breakfast. "Oh no, he might not eat until lunch."

You know, we have all of these thoughts that things are not going, right. Things should be going better. This is not going according to plan.

Those are the thoughts that are creating the stress. Not the situation, not my son wanting to play and not get clothes on, which is a completely normal way for a five-year-old, or almost five-year-old, to get ready for the day, by the way.

So yeah, we just need to focus on our thoughts. We need to reframe the situation.

How about thinking, "Of course, my son wants to play. Of course he doesn't want to get his clothes on because that's not fun for him. Of course he doesn't care what time it is. He doesn't even have a concept of time yet. Of course, I'm going to get his lunch ready for him to have at school. Of course, I'm going to pack his bag. Of course, I'm going to be doing the things on the checklist because these are the things I decided ahead of time that I want to do. Of course it might be difficult to get my almost five-year-old son out the door in the morning because he's having fun playing in his room. He's comfortable at home. He's comfortable playing in his room. He's comfortable playing with his toys. School is still a brand new thing for him. He is not used to it yet. Of course, there's going to be days where I get ready for the day and I'm all dressed for work. And then my baby spits up all over my clothes. Of course there will be days like that because babies sometimes spit up. There will be days when my husband or I forget to check something off of our new checklist. We're not used to using it. And even after we get used to it, we still might forget to check something off the checklist. It's going to happen. It's okay. Nothing has gone wrong."

None of these things, these situations that happen in our lives, are the cause of our stress. Only our thoughts cause our feelings.

So if you're noticing a situation that makes you want to eat, or you think the situation is making you want to eat. Your kids, your husband, or partner, coworker, your mom, dad in-laws. I don't care who, anybody. Somebody in the grocery store that you don't even know might say something. Who knows. Become aware of what you're feeling in that moment. Have compassion for yourself. Process the feeling. It only takes 60 to 90 seconds. And then reframe the situation. Ask yourself, "Is there a better way that I could look at this situation?"

The answer to that question sometimes may be yes, there is a better way I could look at this situation, but I don't want to. There might be times when you want to feel the stress, when you want to blame the situation. If you want to do that and you're aware you're doing it, it's fine. Do what you want to do in that moment.

But there may be other times when you're thinking, yes, there is a better way for me to look at this situation. And I want to look at this situation different because I don't want to feel stress right now. And I don't want to blame my circumstances or the situation or people in my life for my emotions.

I am the one creating my emotions with my thoughts so I could keep my thoughts, keep my feelings or change my thoughts or change my feelings by reframing the situation. It's totally up to me.

If you are doing all of these things, you're aware, you're having compassion, you're processing your feeling, you're reframing the situation, then eating because of this emotion of stress will not be a thing anymore. You won't feel the need to eat off plan or overeat or do any of those things. You will get yourself to a place where you feel better, in that moment. You feel less stress. You feel empowered and in control around food. You will get to that place, but it all starts with awareness and compassion and processing emotion and reframing situations. That is how you stop stress eating.

Give yourself time to practice this. Give yourself emotional space to practice these things. Give yourself compassion for being a human being with emotions. That's totally normal. Give yourself an open mind to start to reframe situations and see them in a different way, in a way that is empowering to you, in a way that lets you feel in control around food, allows you to feel in control of your own stress, all of your own emotions, everything. It may take some time to get there, but you can get there. I have no doubt.

All right, that's it for this episode, I'll talk to you next week.

If you loved this podcast, I want to invite you to check out The 6 Stages Weight Loss Program. It’s my signature program that’ll teach you everything you need to know from start to finish to lose weight, reach your goal, and maintain it once you’re there. You’ll also learn how to have your own back through the process. Join me over at mcccoaching.com/join. I’ll see you there.


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