Why I stress and comfort eat

The reasons why people over eat, stress eat, comfort eat are wide and varied. I can’t speak for anyone else but I do know why I do it.

I recently wore an outfit that literally transported me back a whole 12 months and as a result has really hurt my mentality and head space and much more than I expected.

I’d known that over the last 2 or 3 weeks, my weight had been creeping up, and not particularly slowly at that. I also know why but I’ve not been able to break my cycle. The amount of chocolate around has not helped but I know that when I’m in the right place, that doesn’t matter I can ignore the bad choices and still be ‘good’.

I have a cycle of eating and healthiness. This cycle normally lasts around a month (not coinciding with the ‘other’ monthly cycle) and has a very structured routine.  You’d think that knowing this would make it easier, but I just can’t break stages 2 and 3!


Stage one
I eat lots of fruit and veg, I can say no to the chocolate, sweets and cakes and I manage to get some exercise in. During this period, I am calm and relatively stress free at work. I don’t take much home and that allows me time to chill out in the evenings, to watch TV, and to sleep well.

It means that I prepare a good breakfast, a good lunch to take to work and enjoy cooking our dinners. During this stage, I loose weight.

Stage two

I begin to feel behind at work which leads to me eating more; at this stage it’s not necessarily ‘naughty’ food but just ‘more’.  As I get more stressed out by the lack of time to do marking and planning, I eat more.

As a result, I feel horrible so I eat more to give me energy.  I feel tired, so I eat more. During this stage, I stop loosing weight and maybe put on a pound.

Stage three

I work harder, bring more marking home, work at the weekend’s to get on top of everything and feel like a terrible mother for not being able to spend as much time as I want with Sprog. I feel bad for wanting to work and that my job means that I have to work at home as well as during the day.

I set my alarm for silly o’clock (normally around 5.30 a.m.) so that I can work before the boys get up.  I sleep less as I’m worrying about everything, I’m more tired.  Guess what?! I eat to compensate for this. It’s at this point that I turn to the naughties… I eat rubbish, drink more caffeine and feel even worse! During this stage, I gain weight.

Stage four

I feel sluggish, lethargic and totally rubbish. I start to have hissy fits about doing marking and stop doing as much. I refuse to bring work home and I start to think more about what I’m eating.

This all means that I start to relax more, sleep better and feel more able to deal with everything. During this stage, I begin loosing weight again.

cycle 2

Where am I now?

I find myself very much stuck at the moment. Before the Easter holidays, I was in Stage three and struggling to get through each day.  Now, I’ve moved in stage four with the work load and am just refusing to do any but I can’t shift the eating mentality.

I have started listening to my SlimPod again as I’d stopped doing that when I was super tired before the holidays… I know, it doesn’t make sense to stop doing something that helps when you need it most. I’m going to be making more of an effort to hit my step count each day and I’m just about to plan the food shopping.

I know that the biggest factor making me unhappy and making me want to eat is work.  I don’t know how to tackle that one yet.  I don’t want to look back at Sprog’s early years when we’re older and just remember being unhappy with how I felt and looked, I want to be able to look back and have felt good about myself but at the moment my self worth is pretty low.

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54 thoughts on “Why I stress and comfort eat

  1. Sounds really tough hon and I guess at least you’ve spotted a pattern, though like you say, that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to solve. I am a huge comfort eater too and I really hate it as it makes me unhappier in the long run but it is so hard to break the association! Xx

  2. HI this is a great post and as an ex-teacher myself I identify with so much of it. I am just seriously starting a new weightloss journey and I am looking into my diet froma health point of view rather than intrinsically as a way of getting a slim body. I want to improve my health and get fit for my future plans to travel. Thanks for sharing and I shall be cheering you on from the sidelines!

  3. Good luck with breaking the cycle – such a hard thing to do. Hope listening to the SlimPod helps and that you can manage to get yourself back into a happier place soon x

  4. I have the same problem, I haven’t worked out stages and cycles, probably because I don’t understand myself as well as you do, but I do very much stress and comfort eat, and it is really hard to ignore the voice in your head screaming that you need a pizza because you are stressed, it’s nearly impossible for me, so I really feel for you. If you ever find out the answer and can break the cycle please share.

    I trained to be a teacher so I know how relentless the hours of planning and marking are!
    Kat x #TheList

  5. I’m very much an emotional eater too and a understand how you feel. I can’t force myself to work in the evenings unless I incentivise myself with sweets. I’m trying a month of low GI this month to see if sweets being totally off the table will help. I really identify with making a good breakfast and taking a good lunch to work though. These are the elements that slip when I get stressed. I know I am not enjoying things as I should because I’m worrying about my weight and it’s a miserable way to feel. We are going to Disneyland in July and I know if I haven’t dropped a stone before then I will feel fat and miserable all week. Why are we so hard on ourselves? #TheList

    • O sweetie, it’s so hard isn’t it?! I can’t pretend to have the answers but today I’ve managed my first proper day back on slimming world and I do feel a bit better! I’ve got my fingers crossed for you that you can find something to get you going. I’ve found it much easier if I don’t focus on numbers and think about how good I feel when I do the right things instead

  6. You can break that cycle don’t worry about it. The main thing is you have addressed the problem. Easter was so hard for me as Darcy was given so many eggs. New week, fresh start! looking forward to seeing how you got on #weightlosswednesday

  7. I can so relate to this cycle too; but since starting on my Slimming World journey my willpower and knowledge of food is increasing so hopefully will be able to break the cycle soon. Good luck hun xx

  8. I comfort eat when I get stressed too! Which is where I have failed in loosing weight quicker than what I have done! I need to stop. I have tried to stop getting any high syn things in the house but hard when I live with my partner who isn’t on SW and two lively kids!


    • I know it’s not easy, my husband still wants things like go aheads and crisps in the house which are actually high syns! Good luck – it does work in the end, especially when your head let’s you!

  9. I comfort eat too , except i don’t have cycles i just eat rubbish all the time due to having no time nor energy running around after a baby and a toddler. I have taken then plunge and joined slimming world in the hope i can shift my baby weight and stop my bad eating habits. At least you are aware of your cycle and can hopefully break it xx

  10. You’ve been brave to write about this! I too eat when I get stressed, especially chocolate and it can be difficult to break the cycle, especially when you’re tired. I have put on weight over the last few months and also need to lose a chunk – maybe we could do this together 🙂 What I have found useful is to limit myself to certain things but not cut them out completely – so I’ll let myself have a little bit of chocolate every day if I want to. That usually stops me craving chocolate and I can look forward to that little bit and then eat healthily (or at least try to) around that xx

    • I think it’s helped me to stop thinking about actual numbers but about how I feel instead – something that the Slimpod has made me think about. I’m really hoping to feel more comfortable by the wedding in May and especially for Britmum Live now!

  11. I hope that your new job that you mentioned to me is a happier place, I’ve had similar worries about how I’ll look back on Toby’s babyhood so do understand. It’s good that you recognise your cycle and I hope that you can find a way through it. Thanks for linking up with #BloggingToJogging xx

    • Thanks lovely. I know that the next couple of weeks will be another test of my resolve so I have my fingers crossed that this week Ive done enough mentally to try and pull me through!

  12. Gosh this really goes to show that a lot of it is in the mind, doesn’t it? I had never before looked at my pattern of eating but I definitely eat junk and drink more wine when I’m stressed and feeling guilty about something or another. Such a vicious cycle, isn’t it? You teachers are so over-worked, I hope you’ve taken a good break in the holidays. x

    • I know that all my bad eating is from negative feelings which is rubbish when I can’t seem to find a completely happy place at the moment.
      I’ve managed to get a reasonable break…just finishing off the last few essays but I know that I have 175 assessments at school that still need marking…the next couple of weeks will be a good test of my resolve…again!

  13. Thank you for writing this. It is true for so many people and by sharing your experiences you will help others not feel so alone.

    It is great that you have identified the cycle you are stuck in. As a hypnotherapist, I would suggest looking at the feelings and beliefs you have about yourself as the stress begins to kick in. This can be difficult but useful when wanting to break a pattern of behaviour. I hope this helps.

    Lastly, it is so hard to hear you say that your self worth is so low right now. You are so much more then your body shape and your boys love you for who you are.

    • It’s funny that you should say this… one of my friends actually suggested that I think about some hypnotherapy as her cousins practices and has helped her through some problems in the past. I’m going to see how I manage it through the next couple of weeks which are a nightmare at work and I have so much work to do and if I struggle again then I may well think about it.

      • When we can’t move forward with something then there is something else going on behind the scenes. Personally I would recommend finding someone who is willing to explore with you what is happening for you as an individual rather than someone who sells a one size fits all deal. Hope your next few weeks go well.

  14. Oh hun, you have identified the cycles you go through and that certainly helps – I can totally see why you have been comforting eating though. It’s not great to bring work home with you, there literally is no ‘clock off’ time at all and work easily encroaches on family time. I hope you can get back into your groove and happy place again soon! Sim #WeightLossWednesday xx

  15. It’s good that you know your cycle though and your triggers so perhaps easier to work through it. It must be hard though not being able to break it but I’m sure you will be able to. It’s getting warmer. Summer is approaching all good and positive. How about exercise? Can you do a bit when you eat a bit more? xx Good Luck though, be positive and it will fall back into place x ‘#twicklytuesday

  16. Bless you! It’s the emotional eating I struggle with most and currently battling with. I will be really good then something bad happens and I’m stood at the snack cupboard emptying it. I try and keep my hands busy, blog, drawing etc in the evenings and in the day when I get stressed or something I try and do something energetic or punching the air to get my blood pumping! Helps a little. I’m two stone nearly down with at least two more to go. The most important thing is to break the pattern, you’re conscious of it now so that’s a start! xx

  17. I have always been an emotional eater. I pretty much follow your cycle. You are aware of it that is the main thing! I hope summer will bring about better moods and less incentive to eat bad things xx #TwinklyTuesday

  18. Sounds very tough. Tiredness and busy lives doesn’t make it easy. At least you know. I am terrible with snacking and cakes and biscuits in the day because I am home a lot. Know what you mean. Running for me stops me eating so much as I feel like it’s wasting my hard work. Good luck. Jess x #twinklytuesday

  19. Oh yes, I do this too. Especially the 5am starts which makes me tired, more stressed, more inclined to eat rubbish, which makes me feel more rubbish. Yuck. Vicious cycle. I find the only way to avoid it is to not have anything naughty in the house. There are always cakes in our staffroom when i don’t need them!


  20. At least you are able to recognise a pattern, I’m just greedy and love food, haha. It’s easy to shift your emotions on to something quicker and easier, especially with the amount of work I know you teachers can bring home! You just need to find the point in your trigger where you can beat it down and say you are stronger, and thus break the cycle. Good luck sweetie! #twinklytuesday x

  21. I guess the first step is to know what causes the problem, and if you already do (which it sounds like) then you are half way to rectifying it (but I know nothing I’m portly and over eat myself).

  22. Aaah bless you — I really do relate. I put on weight REALLY easily but it takes AGES to lose it. Plus, I tend to reward myself with food!! Particularly if I’m feeling good about my weight, I’ll reward myself with a slap up meal. Ridiculous eh?! Good luck to you pet — at least you’ve identified the cause, which is the first step to losing the weight! Thanks so much for linking up with #Twinkly Tuesday 🙂

    Caro | http://www.thetwinklediaries.co.uk

  23. Pingback: Weigh in #12 | mamavsteacher

  24. I am so similar, I am sitting here eating Easter egg when I know I shouldn’t be, I just have no self control and no motivation to get fit. I need to, the weight is creeping back on again(why is it so much harder to lose the damn stuff?) and I am starting to feel that unhappiness again. But still, I am reaching for more chocolate! I hope you start to feel better about the situation soon hun xxx

    • O sweetie, have you tried something like the Slimpod? I think it helps me to get my head in the right place. It’s so much harder to loose it now isn’t it?! Sodding children!!

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