How to Stop Yourself Eating Too Much when You Are Stressed or Depressed
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How to Stop Yourself Eating Too Much when You Are Stressed or Depressed

Overeating due to an attempt to reduce stress is common. Not only is food easily available, but it provides the comfort that anxious people crave. There are other ways to relieve stress and depression when you get the urge to ply your body with food in an attempt to stifle emotions, which are healthier alternatives.

When you are stressed or depressed, you may feel like engaging in what has become known as ‘emotional eating.’ Emotional eating can occur when a person is experiencing a negative emotion and wants to feel better again. By eating, they find they are able to obtain a little relief, although this will not serve any long-term purpose. The satisfying effects of eating to relieve stress are short-lived, and whatever the problem was that caused the anxiety in the first place will not have disappeared.

Emotional eating is a big problem for some people, who find that they put on weight increasingly, and that this in itself causes even more stress, and is just one more reason to worry.

When you feel anxious and you have the desire to eat, although you are not really in need of food, consider the following options to help you avoid doing so:


Distraction is known to be effective when it comes to mild pain relief, so it makes sense that it may help when you are stressed. By shifting your focus away from your problems, and from food, you may be able to ease anxiety and avoid overeating.

Try engaging in exercise, such as jogging, walking, or Tai chi. As you are feeling low, you can benefit from feel good chemicals that will be present during activity, and you will not feel like eating.

Alternatively, try moving your concentration onto calmer matters, such as meditation or listening to relaxing melodies. Brainwave music, sometimes referred to as binaural beat music may be of help, as it will alter your brainwaves while you listen.


The opposite of distraction is to focus on the problem at hand, not by eating, but by exploring it in an attempt to reach its heart and deal with it. Sometimes recognizing where you got the idea about eating to relieve stress from can help, and being able to separate and identify beneficial feelings you get from eating.

Once you know more you will gain better understanding, and be better equipped to handle your behavior and alter it. If you can see what you get out of overeating you may be able to apply your knowledge to help you engage in a healthier alternative.

For example, if eating when stressed provides you with calm and comfort, perhaps a massage would create the sensation and emotions you seek rather than food, or wrapping yourself in a warm blanket and watching a comforting movie would do the trick.

Next time you are stressed or depressed and have an urge to binge on food, consider choosing a different option that will be better for you. That way you will not have the added worry of gaining weight, and will learn how to handle your emotions.

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Comments (4)

Thank you for writing this. I suffer from anxiety and even take anxiety medications, but stress eating is still a problem. This was very helpful!

Ranked #1 in Psychology

You are so welcome Melissa, I hope it turns out to be useful to you

I have noticed that during these times triggers occur where that person will be saatisfied by food as a first response. Are you in U.K Bridget

Ranked #1 in Psychology

Yes I agree Peter, there usually is a trigger. The individual feels stressed, perhaps in response to being anxious about a relationship for example, and then feels the need for comfort, hence the comfort food. yes, I am in the UK.