When things get tough, a lot of people pick up a bag of chips or some cookies and eat to feel better. Especially in times with little contact to the outside world, being so alone can make matters worse and make stress eating more difficult to control.
What is stress eating?
Stress eating, also known as emotional eating, occurs when one uses eating to cope with a number of issues including stress, sadness, boredom, emotional emptiness, and other negative feelings. For many, stress eating makes them feel like they are filling an emotional void, associating the physical feeling of full with the emotional sense of wholeness. Typically, stress eating is done when one is not physically hungry and could include overeating. Stress eating is used to solve emotional hunger, as opposed to physical hunger. Emotional eating usually involves specific cravings, mindless eating, and more negative emotions like shame and regret.
The effects of stress eating
Emotional or stress eating can have a number of physical and mental effects. Physically, stress eating can cause weight gain, which can cause a plethora of ailments including heart disease and high blood pressure. Stress eating can also cause nausea and stomach pains. Emotionally, stress eating can cause a cycle of guilt, regret, and shame. This certainly can take a toll on one’s mental health, and could possibly lead to eating disorders.
How to prevent stress eating
Stress eating may seem innocent, but it can be a serious and very unhealthy problem. Luckily, there are some ways to help prevent stress eating.
Tip one: Clear the cupboards
Get rid of whatever you have that you that you tend to be drawn towards when you are stress eating. Donate whatever you can and discard the rest. As hard as it may be, refrain from buy these things in the future. Not having the things that you crave can help stop you from stress eating since you are more likely to crave food after seeing it. It is okay to indulge in some unhealthy foods from time to time, but constantly eating large volumes of junk food can be bad. Instead of purchasing these foods, buy foods like fruits or vegetables. Explore new options for what you eat.
Tip two: Find other coping mechanism
Oftentimes, you can replace emotional eating with healthier coping mechanisms. This can include a number of things such as calling or video chatting with a friend, reading a book, watching your favorite show, or anything else that would usually make you feel happy. You will not know what will help unless you try.
Tip three: Adopt healthy eating habits and a healthy lifestyle
Maintain a food diary by writing down what you ate and when you ate it. This can help you be more aware of what you eat and how much you eat. Make sure that you do not isolate yourself. Isolation can often lead to negative feelings, resulting in stress eating. Exercise daily and have a healthy sleeping schedule.
We hope that this helps clarify any questions that you may have about stress eating. Remember, do not be afraid to get the help of a healthcare professional if you think that you may need more personalized help.