Top 10 Foods for Stress Eating
No one ever loses their job and goes on a celery bender, drowns their breakup woes in wheat grass, or soothes a crying child with a plain, broiled chicken breast.
Eating healthy foods is essential to keep your immune system strong and your body in balance. This is especially true during times of great stress – something like a global pandemic that has killed thousands of people, decimated your income, and forced you into isolation like a shaggy, bleach-scented hermit.
Yes, there are far better ways to deal with your negative emotions, like deep breathing, meditation, and exercise. But sometimes you need serenity NOW.
As children, food was one of the first things we learned to comfort ourselves with. It still works today. While stress-eating as a lifestyle probably isn’t the smartest choice, if you find yourself in your pantry shoveling in a fistful of feel-good – take it easy on yourself. You’re doing the best that you can, and that’s all we need to expect from ourselves right now.
Whether you like salty or sweet, gooey or crunchy – the best foods for stress-eating usually have a few things in common.
- They require zero preparation. Chopping things with a knife may have other therapeutic benefits, but slicing and dicing is generally not part of stress-eating.
- They can be eaten quickly, stuffed into your mouth before your kids or husband notice – and before your inner critic has time to point out all the healthy foods that you should be eating instead.
- These are not healthy foods. High levels of fat, salt, and sugar (or all three) trigger a dopamine release in your brain and calm your inner caveman. So you can go ahead and blame your ancestors for that third candy bar.
No Fork Needed: Top 10 Foods to Stress-Eat
#1. Cookies. That’s the way the cookie crumbles – a good motto for 2020, am I right? No matter what size of cookie you have, it can always be shoved entirely into your mouth. If you disagree – try harder.
#2. Trail mix by the handful. This salty-sweet combo gives you the satisfying feeling of marbles in your mouth. But you’re not Cory Feldman in Goonies – you can chomp down on those delectable gemstones and go back for more. Take that, Fratellis.
#3. Chips & salsa. Eating at Mexican restaurants has conditioned us all (in Texas) with the ability to cram in one spicy scoop after another and another – and then devour an entire plate of enchiladas if we so desire. It’s a SKILL, thankyouverymuch.
#4. Ice cream. I’ve left my house once in the past two weeks for an essential trip to Andy’s Frozen Custard. Don’t judge me.
#5. Pizza. But only if it’s already made – and why bother to heat it up? The quicker the pizza goes from the box or the fridge to your stomach, the less you have to think about the calories you just ate.
#6. Shredded cheese, straight from the bag. There’s something decadent in throwing your head back and dropping a wad of cheese into your mouth, like you’re a diamond-adorned heiress laughing at life’s little worries as you call for another round of Cristal.
#7. Popcorn. Light, airy, and crunchalicious popcorn is the healthiest food on this list – unless you drench it in melted butter or eat a whole bowl (which you probably will). And it’s the perfect companion to another night of binge-watching Schitt’s Creek.
#8. Jelly, jam, or preserves (this might only be me). I don’t keep sweets in my house because I have zero willpower not to Hoover them down. But sometimes when I get really stressed, I NEED a sugar fix. So I wind up knuckle-deep in a jelly jar eating orange marmalade with a spoon. Not proud – but at least I leave my dog’s sweet potato treats alone.
#9. Wine. First of all: Yes, wine is food. Second of all: Wine helps to relieve stress in the brain. It’s SCIENCE. Well, at least red wine does. It contains a plant compound called resveratrol, which reverses crappy moods.
#10. Chocolate. Chocolate stimulates the same pleasure centers in your brain as marijuana and sex. Need I say more?
Raised in the Fort Worth area, Shilo Urban moved to Austin, Maine, Paris, Seattle, New Zealand, and Los Angeles before finding her way home a few years ago. Along the way, she has had over three dozen different jobs, including high school French teacher, record label manager, and farmhand for endangered livestock breeds. She’s traveled to more than 50 countries and always has the next trip planned. Shilo has been a freelance writer for over a decade and has published in Fort Worth Magazine, Fort Worth Weekly, and Afar. Her interests include lost civilizations, jalapeño peppers, and Game of Thrones. She is currently writing a thriller and lives in Fort Worth with the stars of this article, Steve and Lenny.