Stress Eating and How to Deal with It


Stress eating is rather common, with many people turning to food during demanding situations. During such a time, food that’s laden with salt, sugar and fat offer comfort. Eating these foods in a regular context are pleasing, so using them as a relief is understandable. However, using food as a coping mechanism can develop into a cycle, creating unhealthy eating habits. As a result, understanding why people comfort eat and how to break these habits is important.

Comfort Food

When stress occurs, and people turn to food, they often gravitate to unhealthy options. Items like fast food and sweets are much more of a treat, especially at a time where relief is needed. There is biological reasoning behind stress related food cravings. Stress hormones increase levels of cortisol in the body which in turn increase appetite. Sugar is known to decrease stress related hormones.

Stress Eating Could Create More Stress

The problem is sugar isn’t satisfying and is highly addictive. Eating sugary treats though comforting will make people want to eat more. Furthermore, humans are built to seek out food as a means of survival, especially high calorie foods. The calorific foods that are readily available in abundance are usually junk foods that have little to no nutritional value.

Using addictive, unhealthy foods as a solution to stress leads to a cycle of bad eating habits. The comfort and positivity from such foods is only apparent in the moment of eating. Once it’s over, people are often left feeling sluggish and with low motivation. This most likely leads people to have negative feelings towards their bodies. This in turn creates the need to use food as a comfort to mask the real issue thus creating a harmful cycle.

Dealing with Stress More Effectively Will Help

When actions are derived from emotions, it’s easy to find something that helps in the moment without addressing the underlying cause. Overeating may be replacing a craving for something else. Whether that is peace and quiet, someone to talk to or stimulation, the reason behind the overeating needs to be explored and dealt with.

In addition to this, avoiding all negative emotion isn’t healthy either. It is impossible to ignore a problem entirely and it is the main reason cycles of stress eating continue. Facing negative issues is unpleasant and uncomfortable, but they need to be dealt with.

Still Allow Yourself to Have Treats

Although binge eating to deal with stress is an unhealthy choice, by trying to avoid unhealthy food altogether doesn’t help either. By labelling items like cake, biscuits and fast food as “forbidden” it only makes it more desirable. Eating these foods are fine if its not excessive and a healthy diet is continued afterwards.

Though stress eating can be comforting in a single moment, it isn’t a sufficient solution. The triggers of stress need to me analysed and dealt with. If people simply need a release, explore other methods of stress relief that aren’t food related. Different things work for different people but what needs to be remembered is that overeating certainly isn’t the only option, nor is it the healthiest.

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