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What can I do when I’m stressed and craving junk food?

This was a top weight loss question on Dr. Oz’s Sharecare community, and an issue that I think a lot of people struggle with, so I decided to share my answer with all of you.

Stress eating is common problem that a lot of people face. Oftentimes, in the face of any strong emotion, we feel drawn to food to help mask those emotions. Sometimes this urge to eat feels irresistible, but there are a few easy things you can do to combat emotional eating. The first thing you can do when you sense yourself reaching for that bag of chips or candy bar, or whatever junk food fix you tend to reach for when feeling stressed is ask yourself if you are really hungry. Before you take a bite or grab your snack, stop for a second and pay attention to what you are really feeling. If you are genuinely hungry, tell yourself to reach for a healthier snack. If you’re not hungry, try paying attention to what’s really bothering you.

The next step in avoiding stress eating is dealing with the problem at hand. Figuring out what is stressing you out, whether it be a fight with a loved one, a problem at work, or just feeling generally overwhelmed will help you to rationally deal with the problem. Let your emotions wash over you instead of trying to push them under the rug, and mask them with food. Ignoring your stressors will only make them worse. Take a few minutes to think about all of the things that are causing you stress, and then try to tackle them one at a time.

Another great tactic you can use to avoid stress eating is finding an activity you love that will take your mind off of the cravings. Try going for a walk, calling a friend, picking up a book, or doing anything you enjoy that will calm you down and take your mind off of whatever is stressing you out.