We’ve all been there: You come home from a super stressful day at work, and suddenly that tub of guacamole that was supposed to last you the whole weekend is gone (oops).
Emotional eating is real. In fact, a 2013 study by the American Psychological Association found that 38 percent of adults had overeaten in the past month as a result of stress. That’s a lot of guac.
For Ashley Spencer, one of our 2018 Wellness Winners, the stress-eating cycle started to get too real (planning a wedding and working two full-time jobs will do that to you). “Stress has a really physical impact on me, and I gained 20 pounds during that time,” she says.
The Chicago native decided she needed to break the cycle, but knew she couldn’t do it alone (shout out, always having a support squad)—so she started meal prepping with her new husband and signed up for the new Weight Watchers Freestyle program.
“Freestyle and my weekly Weight Watchers meetings have encouraged me to be more mindful about my entire state of being and the reasons behind the choices I’m making,” she says. “And the zero Points® food list lets me have great choices for healthy snacks when I’m super busy or out of my normal routine.”
Now with over 200 zero Points® options, you can spend less time doing math and more time actually enjoying your food—all while feeling empowered to make smart choices wherever you are throughout the day. Not only has it helped Spencer lose seven pounds since signing up at the beginning of January, it’s also helped her learn to manage her stress in a positive, healthy way. #Goals.
Scroll down for Spencer’s 3 tips on managing stress and avoiding the emotional eating trap.
Identify the problem
“My mom always says, ‘If hunger isn’t the problem, food isn’t the answer,'” Spencer advises. “If I start to get mindless about my eating, I try to make a concerted effort to actually identify what the problem I’m avoiding is.”
So how does Spencer stay ahead of her anxieties? “Don’t wait until you are in full-burnout mode to deal with your stress,” Spencer says. “Be honest about your limitations and be willing to rely on your village when you need to ask for help.”
And that goes for everything from asking for a raincheck on your BFF date (when you really need some chill time) to turning to WW for support with all your healthy goals.
Stock your fridge
“If I do want to reach for a mindless snack, I would rather it be grapes or carrots than something else,” Spencer says. By filling your fridge with nutritious munchies from the zero Points® list like hardboiled eggs, fat-free Greek yogurt, carrots, or cherry tomatoes, you’ll be setting yourself up for good vibes only.
“[With Freestyle] I love how easy it is to track when you aren’t caught up on measuring, weighing, and worrying about everything. I love that the zero Points® food list helps provide choices for every situation I find myself in.” AKA, it’s got your back—whether you’ve got a fridge full of meal-prepped ingredients or are out with friends for Taco Tuesday.
Find a swap
Yes, noshing on sweet potato chips is totally fair game—but sometimes reaching for a snack can be an auto-pilot reaction when you aren’t even craving it. In those moments, try a different wellness practice (like doing a few minutes of yoga or soaking in an epsom salt bath) that will make you feel just as calm.
“Do the things that make you feel good. You always have 10 minutes to take a timeout for a cup of tea, or hang out in Lotus pose, or call your mom,” Spencer says. “I often find that in the moments I’m trying to emotionally eat or I’m feeling frazzled, I get the same soothing feelings from a cup of tea that I’m chasing with [food].” Pass the mug.
Top photo: Twenty20/@jacquiecooks