Managing Stress Eating

I never get stressed or upset. Just ask my wife and those close to me. I am ALWAYS centered and at peace with the world. At least until the guy in the truck pulling the trailer cuts me off in traffic. Or I have decided to schedule a 14 hour day, make appointments too close together and I am RUNNING LATE! MOVE GUY WITH THE TRAILER! I have met NO ONE in my life who does not experience stress, irritation, and anxiety on occasion with some on more occasions than others. If we do not hide in a cave by ourselves we also will experience sadness and loss, people who are not as smart as we are at work, and trucks pulling trailers who won’t move. 

Never What Happens

Many of us use food and other unhealthy substances to cope with life events. Along with the unhealthy coping in many cases comes guilt, frustration, and a never ending revolving door struggle of why we can’t “get it right.” There are so many factors that play a role in the health choices that you make. These include:

  • The way that you were conditioned by family, culture, teachers, role models, and others
  • The way your genetics played a role in temperament and the way you respond to things in life
  • The way you began to deal and cope with life (usually begins in the teen years)
  • The way you agreed with certain belief systems regarding health
  • The way you reward yourself for a job well done
  • The way you reward yourself for having a hard day
  • The way your brain and body have locked into these belief systems, reward systems, and coping skills which have created an “autopilot” brain and body response system

And you thought it was that willpower thing. The brain and the body are such incredible machines! Up to this point, the way we have dealt with life events has provided us security, comfort, and safety. The way we were taught by others and what we have agreed to were probably the only way we knew. I struggled for years. I got up to a weight of 340 lbs, smoked a pack a day and coped in other unhealthy ways, and dealt with the round and round guilt and frustration of wanting to do better but could never seem to. So many things more than choice make up the way we respond to events in life as noted in the bulleted section above. I have lost 125 pounds, cope in different and healthier ways now and live life much happier than I used to. Since I began as a personal trainer 13 years ago and received my Masters Degree in Counseling in 2010, I have witnessed hundreds of people transform the way they deal with life events despite where they have come from in life. 

The Answer to Stress Eating

We cannot change the way we have done things in the past. We can only accept it without judgment of ourselves and others and learn from our histories. If the way you have coped with life in the past has created great health and good choices I say congratulations. If you have struggled and are open to what has worked for hundreds of others I also say congratulations. You are on your way to great health! Here is some of the things that has worked for me and hundreds of others who have decided to change the way they cope with life events. 

  1. We all accepted that the way we were coping with life events was not working and was making us unhealthy
  2. We were all HUNGRY for change
  3. We have a significant reason to begin to take the action to make change whether it was children or family, physical pain or lack of mobility, low self-esteem, or the desire to have a partner in life

If these criteria fit you and you would like to cope with life in healthier ways then consider doing what the other success stories have done

  1. Create a two day meal plan. Eat only lean protein, fruits, and vegetables. On day three, have one item that is different and something you will enjoy if you choose. Repeat. Two days “on,” one item “off.” 
  2. Learn to recognize when you may be at risk for stress or emotional eating. Distracting yourself from “autopilot” coping, having fruit or other healthy snacks available, and ultimately learning it is not the event that happens to me in life but rather the way I respond will be the key to moving forward with big change. Not allowing the exterior events to control our interior response takes practice but is so freeing! What we give our energy and thought to will grow like a weed if we feed it, especially those of us who struggle to manage coping responses. When you want to go back to autopilot ways of dealing with life, shift your energy and thought to a healthier response and your strong reason for desiring change. 
  3. Get back to good health practices if you have had a day where you did not make the healthiest choices. Do not beat yourself up. Just start over. You are only human!
  4. Place yourself in environments that support your change. Going to the gym, support groups, and social gatherings where others are of like mind will help you when your normal circle of friends and family do not share your health choices. Love who you love and spend time with those you love but make good health choices in all environments.
  5. Treat your body and brain good with exercise, reading, music, rest, fun activities and service to others. We are multifaceted creatures who need multiple things to help us get through the stress of events in life. 
  6. Stay resilient! The key to any endeavor in life!

I sincerely hope this helps you to get started on a new path to good health practices and coping skills. I know a lot of people who have struggled for years. I also know a lot of people who no longer struggle. It is time to create the life and health that you deserve. It is time to be your own miracle!


Miracles of Phoenix Fitness Owner Coe Kirby holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and has helped hundreds of people overcome self-defeating behaviors and achieve goals of all levels. His unique style and skill set make him comfortable for the client to be open with while pursuing the growth or change he or she desires. Knowing that each individual is different with where they are in the change process, he guides the client on a journey of self-discovery that helps the individual learn his or her own method to success while giving strong support and proven tools to assist them. His two books, Your Health is Your Wealth: Working Out the Inner Self For a Fit Outer Self and Rebuilding Your Temple From the Inside Out have helped people from all walks of life learn how to create healthier lifestyles for themselves and their families. Both books are available through or  Good luck on your health yourney!


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