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Things to do Instead of Stress Eating

stress eat

Authored by Sarah Polite – Former Guest and Success Story of Hilton Head Health

Hi, I’m Sarah and I’m an emotional eater.  

Food. For as long as I can remember food has been a constant. A reward. A comfort. As an emotional eater it has been one of the only things to truly soothe and comfort me in times of stress and uncertainty throughout my life. As a young child food was my friend. It still is. Food has always been there in the hard times, as well as always being there in the good times. Sad? Eat cake. Happy? Eat cake.  

Junk Food

Having a snack nearby was always a comfort for me. I still find comfort to know my pantry is stocked with all the things to make me feel better “just in case.” While I was at Hilton Head Health I realized it was the first time in my life I wasn’t going to the grocery store to stock up on foods to keep around me “just in case” to feel better.  The sweets, the savory, crunchy salty things, all the things. Instead I was eating the nutritious food there, that was provided for me. The delicious food that was made with so much care and thought and I was eating it to nourish and fuel my body to actually feel better, not using it to fill voids like I have in the past. I always thought that food would make me feel better, which it did, until it didn’t.  

During my time at Hilton Head Health I started looking at the habits I had with food. I would feel something, and no matter what, good or bad and reach for something to eat. A reflex. Most times without even thinking about it. I started to reflect on how my emotions and food were connected. They were intertwined and complicated and in an exclusive, unhealthy relationship.  Feel. Eat. Feel more because I ate. Eat some more. Repeat.  

With this new awareness and space away with my old “friend” and habit, came the opportunity for me to slowly start to form new habits, new routines, new rituals. Learning that my craving to soothe my emotions with food may not necessarily go away but how I react to it can change.   

The reason for going to Hilton Head Health was to start to choose myself and love myself. By choosing myself over choosing food I started to love myself in a new way I hadn’t experienced before. I slowly started adding in acts of self-care each time I would feel the need to scratch that emotional eating itch instead of eating.  And you know what? It worked. Doing something else for myself even for a few moments would direct my brain to that action of love and the sensation to fill that void would ease. I tried to channel the feelings I was having in that moment into something good for myself, and for others instead of reaching for that sleeve of Oreos. I would pause, realize what was coming up for myself and then do one of the things listed below. Here are some of my favorite things to do instead of emotionally eat. I encourage you to print this list and keep as a resource on your fridge or bathroom mirror as a reminder. I encourage you to add to it, list things that make yourself feel good instead of feeling that void with food. To help you love yourself and others. It gets easier to choose ourselves once we decide to. 

Things to do instead of emotionally eat:  

  • Pause. Close your eyes. Have a quiet moment. Meditate. BREATHE.  
  • Make note of five things you’re grateful for.  
  • Write a letter to a friend.  
  • Write a letter to yourself. Tell both your friend and yourself how much you love them.  
  • Go for a walk.  
  • Dance to your favorite song. Turn up the music louder, keep dancing.  
  • Call someone you love to hear their voice and to tell them how much they mean to you.  
  • Sit in the sunshine.  
  • Drink a big glass of water.  
  • Read a chapter in that book that is sitting on your bookshelf.   
  • Take a nap.  
  • Journal about what you’re feeling in that moment.  
  • Take a shower or bath and use all your favorite products.  
  • Put on your favorite outfit. 
  • Eat a piece of fruit.  
  • Clean an area in your home.  
  • Remember your why. Why you started. Why you keep going.  

Repeat any and all as needed.  

Sarah Polite
Former Guest and Success Story at Hilton Head Health

It’s time to start your own journey to health and happiness. Click here for more information about the wellness and weight loss programs at Hilton Head Health, recently named the #1 Wellness Resort the Country by USA Today