Stress eating is something that affects most people in their lifetimes, whether it’s on a regular basis or at certain times of high tension. While it’s both common and normal, it can cause long-lasting health problems down the road that you can and should avoid. These health problems include hypertension, diabetes, rapid weight gain, and more.
What is stress eating?
Stress eating is a coping mechanism that many people utilize because food is a comfort for them, and a way to escape the stress of life. For some people, it may even be a learned behavior that began in childhood. Perhaps your parents gave you a little treat as a kid when you had a tough day, so you associated treats and comfort food with feeling better - which is why people turn to food during times of stress.
How does stress affect your body?
There are a lot of ways stress can affect the body, including the following:
There are much more severe symptoms of chronic stress such as rapid breathing, a weakened immune system, risk of heart attack, fertility problems or missed periods, and more. So, overall, stress can really affect every single aspect and function of your body if not properly addressed.
What are some of the psychological factors that lead to stress eating?
People who tend to engage in stress eating or emotional eating often find that food provides them comfort and brings them more positive feelings, at least in the moment. They may eat to fill an emotional void and even eat to the point of being uncomfortably full. Some people may have even been raised to connect food to feelings, for example, if food was scarce or they were taught to treat food as a reward or punishment. There are many different psychological factors in emotional eating, and they vary from person to person.
How can you stop stress eating?
The best way to stop stress eating is to analyze the situation every time you feel “hungry.” Is it true hunger or emotional hunger? Additionally, you may focus on how you feel at that moment. Are you stressed out or dealing with a high-tension situation in your life? If that’s the case, chances are, you may be surrounded by the temptation to emotionally eat and you have to fight it. Engage yourself in something else - something that will take your mind away from the temptation. You’ll also want to surround yourself with healthy, organic foods instead of foods you would reach for during a stress-eating episode.