There’s one thing you might want to consider if you find yourself stress snacking. That’s to determine whether you’re dealing with an actual stressful situation happening now. Or remnants of a stressful situation that happened in the past and it’s now being manifested in the form of a habit.
Stress or Habit Snacking?
To determine whether you’re dealing with stress or habit snacking, use journaling. For me journaling is an amazing tool that helps organize our thoughts. And find answers to our questions, to understand ourselves better.
- What does stress feel like?
You need to be able to describe stress. What changes in your body and mind do you observe? Are there particular features that you can associate with stress?
- Do you immediately grab the snacks?
Determine whether it’s an impulse type of snacking or if you’re negotiating: to snack or not to snack?
- What do you snack on when you’re stressed?
If you’re reaching for processed foods, unhealthy foods, then it might be a good idea to change your environment. Stack your home with healthy options. At least, you bring quality nutrients to your body as opposed to junk food.
- What are other situations in which you snack on the same foods?
This question helps you understand whether there are other situations that may be triggering the same response. If you find other similar, stress-free situations in which you snack on the same foods, then you’re one step closer to understanding the stress vs habit distinction.
- How do you feel during and after snacking?
The simple fact of you observing your behavior will make you more mindful of what’s going on. Plus, it will help identify other activities (non-food related) that can bring the same benefits.
- What do you think would happen if you did something else instead of snacking?
Describe exactly how you might feel if you chose to do something else instead of snacking. This helps you understand just how deep your attachment to snacking really is.
- What activities can you do instead?
Brainstorm activities that you can do instead of snacking.
- How do you feel during and after each of those activities?
Just as you did with snacking when you were observing your behavior and feelings, try to do the same with the activities you’ve identified. See which ones resemble snacking the most in terms of what you get out of it.
- What activity could you easily use to replace snacking?
Pick one activity to use as a replacement for the snacking. Even if you don’t start implementing right away or all the time, you’ll have that on the back of your mind. This helps you widen the gap between the trigger and the snacking.
Once you’ve journaled around these questions, it’s time to find the source of the stress. Or deal with the unhealthy habit.
Deal with the Source of the Stress
If you already know the source of your stress, then there are 3 main things you can do to deal with it:
- Remove yourself from the stressful situation, person, environment.
- Modify the stressful situation, person, environment so that it’s no longer stressful.
- Change your mindset or perspective on the stressful situation, person, environment. In such a way that you’re ok with it and no longer perceive it as stressful.
If you’re not aware of what causes your stress, then you’re going to use the following strategy to find out:
Step 1 – List all the activities you do in a particular day, the people you meet, and the environments you spend your time in.
Step 2 – Rate each of the activities from 1-5 or 1-10 based on their energizing and de-energizing effect they have on you. So, you’re not rating their stress levels but rather how you feel in terms of energy. Do you feel energized, indifferent or drained of energy?
Step 3 – Take the ones with the lowest rating and try to identify the source. If you’re unsure, go through the steps again only paying attention to the lowest rated ones.
Once you identify the source, use one of the 3 ways of dealing with stress (mentioned above).
It’s a Habit
If you determined that you have an unhealthy habit, then check out this free course: 4-Part Strategy to Get Rid of Unhealthy Habits and Build Healthy Habits instead.
For the video version, go HERE.