What is Stress Eating?

Stress eatingWhat is Stress Eating?

Do you wonder what is “stress eating”?  It’s a bad habit many of us have become accustomed to, where we eat bad foods and overeat when we feel stressed. It might make us feel more comfortable temporarily and more in control of our life, but we are only hurting ourselves. Here are some things to know about stress eating.

How Stress Eating Can Develop

First of all, it helps to know exactly how stress eating develops. Not everyone who has large amounts of stress will use eating bad foods to feel better or to hide negative feelings. However, someone who often turns to food to hide their feelings, such as someone with an overeatering problem or an emotional overeater, might also turn to food during times of stress. Emotional overeating isn’t just caused by stress, but by happy, angry, sad, good, and bad emotions. You are at a higher risk for being a stress eater.

Some studies also suggest it might be due to hunger hormones that aren’t functioning as they should, and that can be peaked when you get stressed out. If you find that you actually feel hungrier when you are stressed and aren’t just looking for a distraction, this might be what is causing you to stress eat.

Signs You Are Stress Eating

Not everyone who stress eats is aware of it, as you might just think you have a large appetite or simply can’t control how much bad food you eat. Keeping a journal can help you look for patterns of stress eating, such as certain days where you always head to the McDonald’s drive-thru after getting into a fight with your significant other, or wanting to eat an entire pint of ice cream after a hard day at work. These are classic signs of stress eating. Here are some additional signs you are stress eating:

  • You gain weight during stress points in your life
  • When you eat what you want, it makes you feel happier
  • You feel a sense of urgency in terms of eating certain foods
  • After a long day, food is the only thing you can think about
  • You have uttered the words “I need this to feel better”

What Can Be Done About It

Now that you know what stress eating is, it’s time to put a stop to it. While you might not be able to completely avoid it, here are some tricks and tips that can help make the process easier.

Meditation – Meditation is a great way to ground yourself and focus on your mind without letting the stress overwhelm you. It takes practice, so don’t feel discouraged if you don’t pick up on it right away. Try a few minutes of meditation each day and let your mind clear itself.

Aromatherapy – Relieving stress with natural and healthy remedies is important if you want to avoid stress eating. Aromatherapy is one way to do that, which uses scents that help to provide focus and relaxation.

Food replacement – Try replacing the bad foods you tend to eat when you’re stressed with healthier alternatives. Instead of a plate of nachos, eat tortilla chips with salsa. Eat low-fat frozen yogurt instead of ice cream or a granola bar instead of a candy bar.

Portion control – Put out ahead of time the portion you will eat.  A small dish of frozen yogurt rather than having the entire pint in your hand is a really good idea.  Make it more effort to overeat, and you will be doing your body and your mind a favor!

Here’s a post I wrote on healthy eating that is always good to revisit!

Helping You Achieve Major Wellness in Your Life!

Cheryl A Major, CNWC

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