How To Prevent Stress Eating | Tips For Self-Care

January 11, 2017

Among my clients, I have noticed some common chatter- stress eating. This is something that a lot of us struggle with. However, in order to figure out how to combat stress eating, we first must understand the science of stress and how it affects our body.


When we experience stress, no matter the reason, our body reacts in a certain way. Cortisol is released to give you extra energy. It releases blood sugar and puts your immune system into overdrive, which is a good thing - until it becomes chronic. When you are chronically stressed, your body is in a state of low-level inflammation. Cortisol affects your hunger cues and makes you crave those quick energy carbs. Cortisol isn’t a bad guy, per se, it tells you to eat more because it is focused on survival not deadlines. However, chronic stress leads something I call “stress weight gain” and tends to show up in the abdominal region. Excess abdominal weight is more metabolically active- meaning, it puts you at higher risk for type II diabetes, hypertension, and/or high cholesterol. None of which are good things.


As you can see, stress can definitely sabotage your health goals, weight, and/or body composition. A big part of my nutrition coaching philosophy is the mind-body connection which can help you combat stress eating and all the risks that come along with it. Interested in learning more? You can read more about my philosophy and offerings here.


We all experience stress in life, but not all is lost if you struggle with managing it! Below are some tips on how to better manage stress and live a healthier life.

  1. Self Compassion: Practice a positive affirmation or mantra (I am happy, I am nourished, I am healthy, I am loved!) Post it. Write it. SHOUT IT OUT! Own it.

  2. Meditate: This can be done at anytime of the day. Go for a walk, pick a quiet corner in your home, or practice meditation during yoga.

  3. Notice Your Breath: Try to breathe in and let the outgoing breath be long and slow.

  4. Gratitude: Journal! It doesn’t have to be long, elaborate and with beautiful penmanship. Just jot down things you are grateful for each day. This can be an immediate stress relief.

  5. Tune In: Notice the difference between eating for emotional reasons and physical reasons. This is something I always discuss in-depth with my clients.  

  6. Practice: A morning and/or evening ritual. Check out my previous post on a creating a meaningful morning practice here.

  7. Connect: Try to find ways that connect the mind, body, and spirit. You pick!

  8. Be Present: Stress and anxiety can be triggered by future thoughts and concerns. Just think about how you are feeling at the present moment.

  9. Healthy Lifestyle: This goes without saying but committing to making stress management part of your healthy lifestyle holds a magnitude of benefits. Your mind and body will thank you.

  10. Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods: Increase your omega-3’s by eating more fatty fish, flax seeds (ground or whole), turmeric, olive oil, avocados, berries, oranges, nuts and/or green leafy vegetables. These anti-inflammatory foods will help counteract the inflammation caused by chronic stress.

  11. Exercise: As a runner for more than half my life, my runs are a form of meditation and de-stressing! What type of movement do you love? Get out there and do it!

  12. Consistency: Remember to practice these tips regularly. Even in times when you are NOT stressed. Being mindful during your peaks will help you manage the valley’s more gracefully.


I hope you find these tips on combating stress eating useful. Please share with us your tips for de-stressing on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. #SilverSpoonsNutrition would love to hear from you!


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Healthy Sustainable Life

Margot Witteveen, MS, RDN, LD


Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Integrative and Functional Nutrition + Content Creator

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 Margot Witteveen | Atlanta, GA |