Do You Turn to Emotional Stress Eating?
I was talking to a friend the other day, and I asked her what her biggest challenge was relative to healthy eating and keeping her weight under control. She didn’t skip a beat and immediately said, “emotional stress eating”. When she’s bored or worried or under stress, she finds she tends to grab a bag of chips or cookies without realizing it. If you tend to eat when you’re feeling down or stressed to help yourself feel better, you may be an emotional eater.
Emotional Eating is also known as Comfort Eating. It’s the act of responding to stressful situations by turning to food. It wouldn’t be as much of an issue if we tended to reach for carrots or broccoli when we’re stressed, but most people who turn to emotional eating tend to eat high-carbohydrate, high-calorie foods that have very little nutritional value.
Emotional stress eating is not the same thing as binge eating. People who ‘Emotionally Eat’ don’t always eat large quantities of food as binge eaters tend to do. The key to emotional eating is that some form of stressful or emotional situation sets off a trigger which causes you to want to eat at that particular time and grab that particular type of food.
If you fail to recognize and learn to control emotional eating, it can lead to obesity, poor self-esteem issues, guilt, shame, and in some extreme cases food addiction.
If you tend to respond in this way and experience a stressful situation, you’ll use food to attempt to mask or balance the negative emotions with which you’re struggling. Imagine the good feeling you get when you bite into something you think is delicious. It really seems to take over your entire brain. For just a few moments, all you feel is this wonderful feeling of goodness as you bite into those first few mouthfuls of food.
That feeling of goodness is a real chemical reaction. The food you’re eating helps your brain release the “feel good” chemical dopamine. It’s what a person who suffers from an emotional eating disorder is using to attempt to either overcome or completely ignore the stressful situation that’s presented itself. If you’re using a sugary food or a food that is so highly processed that it rapidly turns to sugar to help you feel better, when you eat it, again, you really are experiencing a chemical reaction.
Rather than doing the hard work and dealing with the emotions or facing the challenging situation head-on, an emotional eater will quite simply turn to food to bring back some temporary feelings of goodness and satisfaction at that moment. This has the effect of never allowing you to really deal with and resolve the emotions because they are just covered over with a temporary fix and a temporary satisfaction. At the same time, you put yourself at risk of developing a reliance on food to help you deal with the stress in your life. It becomes a form of medication that you’ll be at risk to turn to every time you’re faced with a stressful situation.
The first thing to do is to monitor your own eating habits. I like to suggest you keep a food log. and write everything down you eat and how you felt when you reached for that bag of chips. Once you see on paper your patterns of behavior, it will be much easier to tweak and change behaviors so they benefit you. Learn to recognize and notice if you go for the cookies or the doughnuts when something upsets you or stresses you out.
Once you understand your eating and behavior patterns, it will be much easier to make some positive changes to help you with emotional stress eating.
Helping You Achieve Major Wellness in Your Life!
Cheryl A Major, CNWC
I’m Cheryl A Major, a Certified Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, online health and wellness blogger, television host, and motivational speaker on the topics of health and wellness. Let’s connect to see how I may best serve you in the near future to help you transform your health, both mental and physical, simply by changing how you eat!
My friend Shirley J Noah and I have created a course for you to help you manage stress. Visit: https://HowToEatToRelieveStress.com to check it out. We’re adding a lot of bonuses now too!