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When you get stressed, does junk food call your name? Do you kick the celery sticks, carrots, salad and protein shakes to the curb in favor of ice cream, cookies and chips?

Stress eating, or emotional eating, may make you feel good in the moment, but the feelings that triggered your attack on the refrigerator—being upset, angry, lonely, stressed, exhausted or bored—are still there. And those underlying feelings can lead to you getting stuck in an unhealthy stress eating cycle.

To find out if you’re an emotional eater, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you eat when you’re not hungry or when you’re full?
  • Do you eat to feel better (to calm and soothe yourself when you’re sad, mad, bored, anxious, etc.)?
  • Do you reward yourself with food?
  • Do you regularly eat until you’ve stuffed yourself?
  • Does food make you feel safe? Do you feel like food is a friend?
  • Do you feel powerless or out of control around food?

Before you find yourself in the midst of your next eating jag:

Focus on the underlying issue—What needs do you have that are going unmet? What’s really going on? What is the source of your stress? What are you feeling?

Take a minute to focus—Before you give in to stress eating take a breath. Step out of the moment so that you can make healthier food choices. When you do eat, focus on what you’re eating and how it tastes. Take it slow and easy—put your fork or spoon down between bites. Savor the moment.

Be kind to yourself—Take care of yourself, be understanding and compassionate. Give yourself a break. Don’t beat yourself up if you do stress eat. It happens to everyone sometimes.

Taking control of your stress eating is just one step to living healthier. Another good step is to sign up for CarePlus.

CarePlus is a free concierge healthcare service with a team ready to be at your service to help you:

  • find the right doctor for you
  • quickly get the appointments you need
  • get faster access to your medical information—like lab results
  • obtain referrals to specialists and the pre-authorizations you may need
  • work with your insurer to answer your insurance questions