Anxiety, Stress Eating and Weight Loss

In the interest of being totally transparent, this is going to be one of those “do as I say, not as I do” type of posts about stress eating. This week I had a lot of anxiety and stress and I just ate whatever came to mind. I’m definitely paying for it in how I feel, but we’ll talk more about that as we go on. For now, just hang in there with me as I talk about how to avoid stress eating when you’re trying to lose weight.

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” ~Michael Jordan

Stress Eating and Weight Loss

When you’re addicted to food like me, then food becomes a comfort for you and when you experience times of stress and anxiety, you turn to food like I did this week. It’s not healthy (and neither is stress and anxiety) and it’s counterproductive to your weight loss goals. I’ve definitely experienced a setback this week and not just because I wanted to eat or was feeling rebellious (a story for another time), but it becomes your way of coping and working through your troubled times. Stress eating, boredom eating, addictive eating – it’s all the same. It’s eating the wrong things at the wrong time and (for me) increases stress and anxiety even further.

Earlier this week, I talked about how my weight loss anxiety was getting to me and how I want to do well for you who are reading. I get anxious about reporting my weight losses and gains and I get even more anxious about what I’m going to write. I want you to get something helpful from my posts and sometimes I just don’t have the inspiration to put together a post until the last minute. I need to stop worrying so much about it because those of you who are reading, just come to read, period. I think that my supporters would be just as happy to read simply about my weekly weigh in as you would a full post on the benefits of water for weight loss or how to avoid hitting a plateau in weight loss. You’re here to support me and I appreciate it all!

How to Avoid Stress Eating

How to Avoid Stress Eating

These are just my tips for those times when I’m strong enough to avoid stress eating (obviously not this week), but I hope you find them helpful regardless.

1. Drink water

Water is essential to your life and makes you feel better overall. Whether you like your water with flavor, with a lemon slice, or just plain ‘ole water, drink water when you’re feeling that stress eating nagging you. The water will fill up your tummy and you won’t feel that hunger pang as much. Of course, if you’re hungry, you can eat, but drink the water first just in case and it will calm down your hunger enough so that you can make a better choice when you do eat.

2. Exercise

Nothing helps my stress and anxiety more than getting in some good exercise and sweating it out. Something about moving around and getting sweaty takes my mind off eating and more on showering to get clean again. Of course, the exercise is going to be great for your heart, your body, your mind, and your weight loss, but at the very least, it will get your mind off that bad food even if for a few minutes.

3. Eat what you’re craving in moderation

I don’t know about you, but when I’m thinking about stress eating, I’m thinking cheeseburger, pizza, and ice cream or chocolate. If you absolutely find that you have to stress eat something like that, eat it, but in moderation. Eat the meat off the cheeseburger and throw the bun away immediately. Eat one slice of pizza (with a large glass of water). Buy one of those teeny tiny single serving cartons of ice cream or buy one piece of chocolate and only eat half. The key for me is to throw away the extra right away or share it with my boy. He keeps me in check sometimes, but I don’t want him eating too much extra just so I won’t eat it.

4. Talk about your stress and anxiety

I just had to get it all out this week in that Anxiety Ridden post in order for me to put things into perspective. I tried talking to Howard, but he’s a non-worrier and his advice is that it will all work out. I needed a little more this week so I talked to you all. Find someone who will listen, not judge, not give too much advice, and maybe someone who has been where you are so they can relate.

5. Reduce the stress in your life

See, easier said than done, but you can do it. Work on finding the stressors in your life and reduce them. For me, a lot of my stress comes from procrastination so the second half of my week has been catching up, getting ahead, and staying on top of things in my work and my life. I just have to remember that laying around and eating or crying about it all is not going to solve the problems. Only I can solve my problems (with God’s help) so I simply have to do… If you’re stressing about money, get out there and find ways to make money from home or brainstorm ways to reduce your spending. If you’re stressing about your marriage, talk to your partner or take the steps to remedy things in other ways. If you’re stressing about weight loss, don’t eat and go exercise a little. This has been the second half of my week and yesterday my statement to the world was “Some days I FEEL like a Rock Star!”.

Now, you’re probably wondering how all this stress, anxiety, and eating affected me on the scale. Well, I’m still wondering that myself. We didn’t weigh in this week.

I’ll be honest. It was partly due to finances (excessive vet bills, ugh!) but it was also due to not wanting to drive an hour, pay the money for the weigh in, and find out that we gained (we know there had to be a gain after the way we ate) so we just skipped a week and now we’re back on track with our eating and hopefully next week will still show a slight weight loss.

How do you avoid stress eating?


  1. Meditation is the best way to cope with stress and it does help reduce stress eating too.

  2. I’m also a comfort eater. My Dad has been seriously ill and I just turn to food as a comfort. I have been seeing a counselor and from speaking to her I am struggling with death and loss. I have lost several family members and friends to cancer and any form of loss, from my boss leaving to friends moving and also the thought of losing my Dad have all been causing me an inner turmoil, which in turn leads me to pick at any food to hand. I don’t drink enough water, and don’t exercise half as much as I should do, using my 60hr a week shifts as an excuse. I’m also struggling with stress at work so all in all it’s difficult. I’m not at all religious but have felt great comfort in seeing a counselor and talking things through and am slowly getting my eating back on track. It’s not easy and there is no quick fix. As long as I tell myself that it means I am putting myself under less stress.
    I fully support your journey Janet and know how hard it is. Reading your blog helps too!
    I wish I could be like Howard and not worry, but I am a worrier and that’s all there is to it. I just need to learn to relax more.

  3. Mari says:

    How do I deal with stress eating? I just give in to my temptations.
    The weather is starting to get really nice in Iowa. The last 2 days (and today will be day 3) and a couple of days two weeks ago were shorts/t-shirt weather. I have ONE pair of capri pants that fit me. I can’t even get my shorts UP let alone buttoned. It’s not easy to just cover up with a large sweatshirt when spring gets here. UGH! I can’t believe I’ve done this to myself.
    I did something this week that is really unlike me. When chips/crackers go on sale, I buy them to have them. Well, Wheat Thins are my absolutely downfall. I LOVE THEM! They are on sale this week. I didn’t buy them. It’s a good thing, too. There have been plenty of times that I would have eaten them.
    I’ve been trying every day this week, but I finally stayed within my (WW) Points yesterday. One day at a time.
    I don’t attend WW meetings anymore. It was a waste of $40/mo. But, I planned to return someday. I found out last week-end that my leader is moving to Idaho. I have mixed feelings. One: I’m sad because I have a hard time with WW leaders, and I don’t do well with just anybody. We really connected. I even did a Bible study with her at her church. 2.) I’m kind of excited that if I do return, I can start over fresh with a new leader who knows nothing of my personal past. I’m sure she’s familiar with habitual offenders, but that’s general.
    Keep on keeping on, and don’t beat yourself up over the past. Keep looking forward 🙂

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