If you're eating to deal with stress, what you really need is mental distraction—anything fun that takes your mind off your worries. In a study that looked at how nurses cope with stress, distraction was an effective method. Instead of relying on food, call a friend or listen to music to get your mind off troubling thoughts.
If you're eating to feel better emotionally, here's some good news: You don't need a lot of comfort food to improve your outlook. Go for quality, not quantity. Research has found that just a bit of chocolate may trigger a release of mood-boosting opioids. And a 2004 study showed that around two ounces of chocolate can have a positive effect on mood.
Finally, beware of food pushers, people who encourage you to try the cookies they baked or have another serving of cake. Turning them down can be difficult, so if a simple "No, thank you" doesn't work, ask to take some home instead—where you can decide how much to taste.
The perfect snack for the anxious, the tired and the stressed