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Stress eating and the economy:

Tips to control emotional eating

by Melissa McCreery, PhD,ACC  |  2145 views  |  0 comments  |      Rate this now! 

Worries about money, the economy, income levels, and finances are behind many women’s stress eating and overeating these days.  In a recent group coaching call, every participant’s dominant concern boiled down to money worries of one form or another. 

Even if your own financial situation is secure, the worries, stress, and difficulties of others surround us in a big way.

Feeling out of control, anxious, worried, or unhappy are all triggers for emotional eating, Here are some tips to keep stress about the economy from affecting your actual bottom line.

Emotional Eating Tip 1: Acknowledge the stress and your feelings. 

As tempting as it is to avoid reality, it’s important to acknowledge the stress and the way you are feeling. That doesn’t mean that you are going to dwell on it or feel that way forever, but if you don’t let yourself deal with your feelings directly, you won’t be very effective at responding to them.

One of my clients had been avoiding getting clear on how her financial situation has been impacted by the stock market.  She was worried and fearful and was trying to cope by “not thinking about it.” Instead of feeling better, she found herself facing mounting dread and guilt for not doing what she knew she needed to do to clarify her situation.  She also found herself snacking more -- especially in the evening -- and putting on weight.  As this happened, she began to feel more out of control.

Luckily, she saw herself entering a vicious cycle. Trying to avoid her feelings led to emotional eating, guilt, and weight gain (and didn’t help with the worry and stress anyway -- in fact it added to it).  It wasn’t until she acknowledged how stressed, worried, and fearful she was that she could start to develop a plan to take care of herself.

A coaching client was noticing that economic changes were leading to changes in her clients’ buying habits. She panicked when a popular program wasn’t so popular anymore.  Instead of spiraling into fear (and stress eating), acknowledging how she was feeling allowed her move into effective problem solving.

Tip: If you have money worries or fears or stress, give yourself some time to let yourself really think about and address your feelings.  This is not the same as “fixing” the situation. Give yourself time to journal, talk with a supportive friend, or think about how you feel.

Emotional Eating Tip 2: Take comfort

. If the economy is causing you stress, you could definitely benefit from comfort.  Comfort eating reaches an all-time high when we are stressed and aren’t feeling entirely sure of (or in control of) the solution to our problems. In order to take control of comfort eating, it’s important to have comfort strategies you can use instead of turning to overeating.  How are you compassionate to yourself during stressful or uncertain times?  How can you take good care of yourself?  Start making a list of things that feel good that you can turn to when you don’t.

About the Author

Melissa McCreery, PhD, ACC, is a Psychologist, ICF Certified Life Coach, emotional eating coach, and the founder of

Read more by Melissa McCreery, PhD,ACC

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