Eating is probably the most widespread method to reduce stress in the modern world. Eating to reduce stress can be done both with and without awareness. Most frequently it is done automatically in the modern world environment with easy access to both stress factors and delicious food.
The stress eating response is natural. Stress increases the craving for food because eating reduces stress. Foods with a high content of sugar, fat and pleasureful taste is especially effective in reducing stress through various biological mechanisms.
I recommend these steps to manage stress eating:
Step 1: Become aware of your stress eating. Accept that it is that: eating to reduce stress. Reflect on the meaningful effects that drive your stress eating. It is not just a bad habbit.
Step 2: Become a mindful stress eater. Accept that stress eating probably will contrinue to be a part of your life. So why not enjoy it? Try also to notice when you have reduced your stress level sufficiently and stop eating at that point.
Step 3: Manage your life stress directly and notice how that reduces your need for stress eating. Practice simply being mindful of stressful feelings, thoughts and situations and let the stress pass by itself.
Don’t skip step 1 and 2. They are necessary to reach step 3.