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I'm a stress eater. How do I stop?

answered 07:29 AM EST, Wed April 18, 2012
anonymous anonymous
I’m a stress eater and since I am now working in a very stressful job I am gaining a lot of weight. My work is challenging and rewarding but I am worried about the effect it will have on my health if it causes me to continue to gain weight at this pace (25 pounds in this last year).

How do I stop eating as a way to cope with stress? It sounds like this should be an easy thing to do but I am just constantly gravitating to the kinds of comfort foods that aren’t good for my waistline.

William Anderson Says...

While you may have believed that eating too much or snacking should be easy to stop, I have news for you and for anyone else who thinks it is easy: Compulsive overeating, which you are describing, is arguably the most difficult of the addictive behaviors to get control of -- more difficult than alcoholism or addiction to the so-called addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin.

I learned to solve my 25-year weight problem (sounds like you have a similar problem) after years of dieting failure and failure with "will power" by approaching the problem as an addiction. Fortunately, I had pursued counseling as a profession and specialized in behavior therapy and addictions. My own experience with compulsive overeating (stress eating is the most common form) led me to recognize the problem as addiction and I was finally successful solving it with a program of comprehensive behavior therapy.

You ask, "How do I stop stress eating?" That is like a chronic addict or alcoholic asking, "How do I stop drinking and using?" You may think that reading a short article or having a single meeting with a counselor should give you all you need to know. Friends may tell you "Just say no, just don't eat." But it is not that easy.

Just as other addicts need to commit themselves to permanent change and following a program of treatment, you will too. My book, The Anderson Method, describes the program for permanent weight loss that I provide. Controlling stress eating is an important part of what is taught. My approach is described at my website, www.TheAndersonMethod.com . There are other valuable resources that you can access if you begin to look for information dealing with food addiction and compulsive overeating. There are several 12-step groups like OA, FA and FAA that are free, non-profit, member-operated organizations devoted to helping people with the problem you are having.

First, you must give up the idea that it should be easy to fix. You need to quit looking for a solution that will not require time and attention, a way where you only have to do something easy that you hear about or take a pill, shot, or a prepared meal or shake.

You are in the grip of one of the most powerful addictions that exist, but you can beat it when you decide to do whatever it takes and commit yourself 100% to beating it. Read my book, research OA, FA and FAA. Get to work. Write again after you've done that if you have more to ask. You can beat this.

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Page last updated Apr 18, 2012

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