6 ways to stay in control of your eating when life gets crazy

When life gets crazy (and so does your eating)

As a therapist specializing in food, eating, and wellness, it’s pretty much my job to focus on being healthy and well. Which usually makes it easier – I don’t have to switch between a ‘normal’ job and my own health.

However, I moved house recently, while also studying, working, and trying to maintain all the important relationships in my life.

This gave me a bit of a taste of what it’s like to have to really focus on prioritizing my time, organizing myself, and making sure all my bases were covered. And of course, dealing with it all without turning to food.

Here, are  6 ways to deal when life gets a bit crazy and you need extra help to stay in control of your eating.

Life can get a little crazy for all of us during times of stress or change. Here, are  6 ways to deal when life gets a bit crazy and you need extra help to stay in control of your eating.

How to stay in control of your eating

You might regularly deal with intense work projects, sick family members, small (or large) emergencies, and so on… and life gets out of hand (or downright traumatic).

It’s easy to get really stressed in these situations, but beyond practicing mindfulness, here are some of the things I do when life gets a bit crazy and I need to maintain order – not to mention sanity! – and that all-important sense of forward movement and progress.

You might be surprised that only one of the following ideas has anything to do with food. And none of them have anything to do with control.

The point is that your best method of “control” is self-care. Fill yourself up without food and ‘controlling your eating’ becomes a million times easier.

1. Prioritize

You can’t do everything all the time. If life is getting busy, you might have to decide to let something go for a while. For me this looked like:

  1. Had to do: essential jobs, relationships, sleep.
  2. Made time for: eating, relaxing.
  3. Sacrificed: exercise

Relaxing became more of a priority for me than exercising, and that was ok with me. It’s what I needed to do to get things done.

Also, it’s ok to say ‘no’ if something doesn’t fit your priorities, and don’t try to make big decisions – prioritize what’s right in front of you.

But also prioritize yourself. If you’re running on empty, you’re not going to be able to do what you need to to get life back on track. Which leads me to my next point…

2. Take time out

Even if you are very busy with a work project, moving house, taking care of a sick relative, or whatever it may be that has your life a bit crazy right now, take time out from that thing and do things just for you.

Watch a movie, read a book, take a walk, whatever you want. This little bit of breathing space will help you deal with what you’re working on, give some much-needed stress relief, and make you more able to give 100% towards your success.

Making a self-care kit is an awesome idea.

3. Lists

Start with the easy things, build momentum, and crush your day!

I have to admit, I’m a list lover. I use both pen and paper lists and digital to-do lists. I find having the day’s or week’s tasks written down not only comforting (so I know I won’t forget something major), but also helps me organise and work efficiently (giving me more time out).

If life is a bit crazy, you don’t want to make it worse by forgetting things, so just jot it down and deal with it at the right time.

Bonus hint: Sometimes I put stuff on my to-do list and then put it off for days. I then look at it and ask “If I didn’t do this thing, would it matter? I’ve already put it off…”, and sometimes I’m able to happily cross stuff off my list without even having to do it. Score!

4. Eat properly

For a health and wellness coach, I have to make a confession here.

I struggle with this during times of stress. Like, a lot.

When life gets crazy not only do cravings hit but so does the time-saving desire to grab food on the go and eat out.

I’m not going to tell you to try to make a home-cooked meal every night during these times, but maybe try for one or two meals at home. Try to get some more fresh vegetables. Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up over your food choices. Try your best, but if you end up with tacos three nights in a row, accept it, and move on.

5. Forget perfection

Nobody is perfect, and no one copes with stress perfectly. You’ll never stay in control of your eating perfectly, either.

Especially when life gets crazy. So whatever you do, know that you will make mistakes. You won’t always sleep well, eat well, or get your to-do list completed. That’s totally cool.

Take a break, come back at it later/tomorrow/never and do it another time. By letting go of the need to be perfect, we can just be with what we have, work with what we can, and make the best of our situations.

6. You don’t have to do it alone

This is one mistake I make repeatedly.

I never ask for help.

During this move, I was surprised and touched by the number of friends who offered me significant help with the whole process. Even though I didn’t *need* the help, knowing that people were there for me and were supporting me was huge.

I’m positive that whatever you are dealing with or working on, you have people there for you too. So, open up, tell people what’s going on it your life and either accept the help that comes your way, or take comfort in the fact that it’s there if you need it. You may not link it to food, but it will help you stay in control of your eating.

I’m also always here if you need help.

So, I’m all moved now and am hoping life will settle down into a new routine quickly. These are some of the ways I learned to deal with this time of change.

So, tell me in the comments: What’s your biggest struggle when life gets crazy? And what do you do to stay in control of your eating? 

About Samantha

Hello! I'm Sam and I'm an Eating Psychology Coach. I work with women who struggle with emotional eating and weight loss to develop new strategies and lifestyles so they can stop using food to cope, lose weight, and eat happy.

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8 thoughts on “6 ways to stay in control of your eating when life gets crazy

  • Heidi

    Such great reminders Sam! Thanks for this post, it came at the exact right time for me! My life has been a bit crazy lately, and I need to remember some of these things, like making lists (which I usually do, but wen I get too busy, sometimes I try to keep it all in my head instead of taking the time to write it down!) and remembering to take breaks and relax too, and like you I rarely to never ask for help, “I can do everything myself!” really?! not… 😉 Going to go take some deep breaths and meditate now, before I jump back into my task list. Thanks again Sam!

    • Samantha Post author

      Thanks Heidi – it seems to just be in the air at the moment! I think learning to ask for help is one of the best (but totally difficult) things we can do. We’re human, and we are meant to help each other. Someone once really helped me by re-framing it as allowing your friends to deepen the relationship by being there for you. If you never let them, you both miss out on the opportunity to grow in the relationship 🙂

  • Kate Shrew

    Sam, this is a great post. I must say, I really needed it! Prioritizing and lists are my big thing! I’m a college student, so I had to get all my homework in. It got insane, but I figured out that snowballing was the best way for me to get it all done and have time for myself! I started with the easy assignments first and built up. Now I am done with my first year of school with straight As. It gets insane, but the strategies you listed really work. Thanks for the tips!

    • Samantha Post author

      Hi Kate, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Lists are awesome – I’m so with you! Yeah, being a student can get crazy (as can being a teacher, trust me!). But, straight A’s? You’ve so got this! You should be giving the rest of us some tips 😀

  • Nicola

    Thanks for this article, I like the bit about priorities. My life has been an intermittent struggle for the last 6 years, the breakdown of my marriage from an abusive man is something I feel incredibly guilty about as it has affected the people I love – namely my children and my parents. I tend to overeat when I feel I’m letting people down – my children, my Mum, my partner – and when I’m pulled in a zillion different directions and feel I can’t cope. I constantly need to remind myself that I deserve to look after myself, including eating well, despite everything else that’s going on. Believing this is a slow process though.

    • Samantha Post author

      Hey Nicola, you’re so welcome. Six years is a long time to be struggling, you must be exhausted. You absolutely deserve to look after yourself. Definitely remember that baby-steps can make all the difference <3

  • radiosilents

    I feel like I haven’t seen you in forever (my fault, not yours!), so when your email popped up in my account, it sounded exactly like something I needed to read. My life has been varying degrees of CRAZYTOWN the past few months and I’ve had varying levels of success dealing with it in healthy ways. As you say, letting go of perfectionism helps a lot, as does reaching out for help, taking time for self-care, etc. Lists and calendars really help me a lot, but sometimes my brain just totally doesn’t want to cooperate, I think out of rebellion, i.e. “I’m dealing with a lot and deserve x…” that kind of thing. Thanks for all you do!

    • Samantha Post author

      Oh yeah – I can definitely relate to a little bit of crazytown, myself. I know what you mean about feeling like struggle and stress deserve a reward. Or maybe a ‘release’ is a better way of thinking about it, and eating is a pretty automatic way to do that. I usually try to cooperate with that rebellious side of myself (it just gets louder otherwise), but I try to entice it with non-food goodies like hot showers, a short walk, a podcast I love.