How to Break The Bad Habit of Stress Eating - Episode 6


Why do we stress eat and how can we stop? 

According to Dr. Susan Albers, when we are stressed, our body produces cortisol, which increases appetite and prompts the body to seek out extra calories to prepare for fight or flight. However, in today's world, stressors are not typically life-threatening, so eating to fight off stress is not so helpful. 

Stress eating only provides a temporary sense of relief, about three minutes to be exact, which is not worth the aftermath. To break the habit of stress eating, here are just a few of the techniques Dr. Albers recommends: 

  • Practice mindfulness with the STOP Method: Stop. Take a breath. Observe how you’re feeling, are you hungry or just stressed? Pick an option that suits your feeling, whether it’s food or a soothing activity.
  • Understand what soothes you: Try the 5-5-5-5-5 exercise. Take a few moments when you have some free time and write down: 
    • Five people you can call when you feel down, upset or need to vent.
    • Five ways you like to relax 
    • Five places you go to calm down
    • Five things you can say to yourself 
    • Five activities you can do to distract yourself when you’re stressed
  • Drink tea: Studies show that drinking certain teas can lower cortisol levels and promote relaxation. 
  • Try the "squeegee breath," technique: This visualization exercise is designed to help wipe away your stress. 

In summary, stress eating is a natural response to stress, and we all do it at some point. But taken too far, it can be detrimental to your long-term health. By practicing the techniques recommended by Dr. Albers, we can better manage our response to the daily stressors of life.

If you are struggling with frequent, out-of-control stress eating and can’t seem to stop, it may be time to bring in an expert. “Therapists can be helpful in understanding your triggers and stepping up new behavioral routines to respond to stress.”


Albers, S. (2023). Why You Stress Eat and How To Stop. Retrieved from