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How to Avoid Stress Eating At Your Desk

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Do you find yourself stress eating, comfort eating or even boredom eating during your workday? That’s emotional eating–eating that we do that is triggered by feelings or desires or needs—not a physical need for fuel.

It’s the eating that happens when you’re procrastinating tackling a difficult project, struggling with writer’s block, or avoiding a difficult conversation. Emotional eating also happens when we’re trying to transform our feelings—like munching mindlessly in the late afternoon in an attempt to perk up or re-motivate. Emotional eating is a major cause of weight gain, weight loss difficulties, and weight re-gain after weight loss. It can be a major issue for many busy business owners and professionals who feel like they are facing a mounting to-do list, challenging projects, financial challenges, and too-little time.

Before you reach for the chocolate—here are three ways to avoid emotional eating during your workday and build skills and awareness that will help you take charge of future challenges with emotional eating.

1. Identify what you are doing

Lots of emotional eating happens on autopilot. When we eat without our full awareness we eat more, we often make poor choices, and we don’t even fully taste and enjoy what we are eating.

Don’t put food where you can reach for it mindlessly. Use strategies that maximize your awareness of what you are doing—don’t eat while you are working—in fact, set a personal policy of not multitasking at all while you eat. If you are feeling cravings or urges to eat that aren’t hunger-driven, say what you know about what’s going on—actually say it out loud (and without judgment). “I’m not physically hungry but all I can think about are those cookies. Something is triggering me to think about eating even though I don’t need fuel right now.” You might feel silly, but don’t skip this step. If you are surrounded by other people and you can’t really talk to yourself, pull out a piece of paper and write it down. Don’t worry if you don’t know anything more than “I’m not really hungry, but I want to eat.”

2. Explore your craving

That urge to eat probably didn’t pop up out of nowhere.

Add a Comment1 Comments

Great tips to help you stop before you eat. I especially think writing things down is a big help. It makes things more real. If I am having a day of emotional eating I will write down what I ate and when. Then I say, "OK you ate a sandwich at 1pm, so no eating for 2 hours." Then I know by 3pm I will need some food and it will be for hunger that I'm eating not emotions.

October 27, 2009 - 3:47pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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