Stress happens. No matter how much you plan, prep and schedule, it still works its way in through the cracks and seams. When it reaches a certain level, there’s nothing I love more than to finish the day with my own cheesy pizza followed by a minimum of three peanut butter cookies (four if they’re small ones).

Unfortunately, binge eating is the fastest way to throw a wrench into any progress I’ve made over the last week, or possibly two. Do I really want to give up all the results I’ve achieved and pride in myself for one pizza and three (or four) cookies? At the time, maybe, but the day after, I can definitely tell you that it’s not worth it.

To make sure I don’t lose my progress and then really beat myself up over it, I’ve got my own strategy to stop binge eating when stress happens. Here are some of the steps I take to keep myself under control.

I learned my triggers – At first, I didn’t even realize that I was binge eating because of stress. I thought I was just craving pizza and then going for it. When I started tracking my progress and keeping a food diary, I started noting my emotional state, too. Soon, I found out that there were certain situations that made me more likely to eat more than I should. For example, when my best friend comes over, I’m far more likely to forget all my eating rules and have whatever I want, particularly if it seems fun. Once I learned my triggers, I could prepare myself to deal with them in advance.

• I keep a food diary – As I mentioned before, I track my food. I’m not on it 100 percent of the time, but I only miss one or maybe two days per month. Usually if I miss a day, I go back and add it from a later date. I started off using an app, but I found that it’s actually easier for me to use a web-based program so that it’s not device specific. In my case, I’m using Sharefit because I can access it from a computer, my phone, my tablet or wherever. It’s all about finding the right one to suit my schedule so that I’ll be most likely to actually use it. It holds me accountable and when I know I’ll have to enter it into the nutrition tracker, I think twice before overeating.

I changed the way I socialize – I used to go out and hang with the girls for wine at a bar or head to a movie with popcorn, candy and a sugary drink. Now, we do things that are just as fun, that don’t cost any more, but that don’t involve eating. It’s helping us all as a group. We’ve painted pottery. We’ve gone for hikes. We’ve even done a couple of escape rooms. It’s great and it stops things from getting too routine. Free time is short enough. We need to use it to get the most out of it!

I do what I can to keep stress under control, but when it happens, I am ready because I’ve changed the way I live my life in a way that actually works. Before I go, I do want to point out that I do still eat pizza and cookies, just not in that quantity and not all at once.