At least one out of every five people claims that they stress eat in difficult situations. Unfortunately, with the advancement of lifestyle, stress eating is getting quite common. However, as harmless as it sounds, it has quite adverse effects on both the physical and emotional health of a person.
What Causes Stress Eating or Eating Anxiety?
When a person eats meaninglessly in stressful situations without even feeling hungry, it is called stress eating. Though many people claim that they do feel the urge of eating. This makes it confusing. However, there is a scientific explanation for hunger-based stress eating too.
One of the adverse consequences of stress is that it messes up our hormonal levels. Stress directly affects the hormone responsible for insulin production. Our body produces insulin when it has to digest food. Also, Insulin causes blood sugar levels to drop. So automatically, when stress triggers the production of excessive insulin, the body wants food to digest causing hunger out of nowhere.
Some of the stress eating symptoms are
- Eating at irregular intervals even without feeling hungry. Hunger develops in a later stage in stress eating.
- Satisfying yourself with junk food and unhealthy cravings.
- Irregular cravings for different foods.
- Urge to eat while dealing with stressful situations.
- Feeling hunger while dealing with emotional trauma.
- Right after eating, feeling guilty and embarrassed is also a sign of stress eating.
Stress eating is triggered by the following things
Many people are fighting silent battles and others around them don’t even realize what is going on. That is why we need to prioritize our emotional health as much as we focus on physical health. Anxiety and depression can very much trigger emotional eating. When your loved ones do this, pay attention. It could be their subconscious cry for help.
Emotional Surges of Hunger
Going through emotional battles leaves its mark on a person’s psychology. There is a difference between physical and emotional hunger. During stressful times, people can get emotionally weak and forget about the thin line between feeling hunger and actual hunger.
Following a Certain Diet
When you are following a diet regimen, that doesn’t include all food portions, it greatly switches on emotional eating. Cutting back on certain foods can generate irregular cravings.
One of the stimuli for unwanted hunger is boredom. When you have nothing else to do, people can start eating to kill boredom. So you need to keep yourself busy with productive activities rather than eating to kill time.
Situational or Seasonal Stresses
Some people eat more in winter, others during festivities. One of the reasons is that you may have more supply of food and time to eat that too. When a person is around family or other people, he can even get emotional motivation from them and may end up eating more.
Is Stress Eating Bad For Your Health?
Of course, eating without physical needs leads to several health problems in a long run. Here are a few possible health conditions that one may face
- It can cause obesity and obesity leads to health and heart problems.
- Stress eating can screw up your digestive health. Eating continuously and meaninglessly confuses our bodies and can cause gas, bloating, acidity, stomach ache, etc.
- It can cause type 2 diabetes in people.
- Emotional eating can cause weight gain and fats stored in the belly. Belly fat is the hardest one to get rid of.
How to Stop Stress Eating and Control Your Hunger?
One must stop stress eating as soon as one spot and realize the signs of stress eating. Here are a few tricks to help you deal with stress eating.
Serve Your Physical Hunger Only
Never eat unless you are hungry. When you are physically hungry, you feel it in your stomach but in emotional hunger, you just want to eat something.
Self-control is the Best Thing
Don’t give up on irregular cravings. Always follow a strict timetable. Here keep in mind that Intermittent fasting could be one way to control that but is not the only solution to stick to a specific timetable.
Do Something Meaningful
Keep yourself busy with productive things. Keeping in mind, the effects of stress eating, never eat only to kill boredom especially while hooking up with your friends and family. Then what to do instead of stress eating? Well, follow your hobbies or try something mindful. This way you can channel yourself positively
Eat a Healthy Diet Only
Eat food rich in vitamin C and potassium. It helps to control stress. If you are following a diet plan, keep changing them so that your body gets to eat different meals and not get used to one type of food. The best diet plan to follow is doing portion control and maintaining weight through walk and exercise. Adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Self Analyzation is Important
Ask yourself “why am I stress eating”. Self-analyzation is the best way to keep it in control. Rather than feeling guilt, later on, channel yourself to stop going down the path. Trust us, most people are already aware that they are stress-eating.
Keep Your Stomach Full
Stay full. Eat food rich in proteins. This will help you deal with hunger and cravings. Although emotional hunger can still hit with a full stomach when you are already full, it will be easier to control it.
There is no shame in seeking help. If you are dealing with an emotional situation, seek stress-eating help from professionals. When your friends or family members are indulged in stress eating, give them emotional support to cope with the situation.
Is Stress Binge Eating a Disorder?
Well, eating when stressed is not a disorder or condition itself but it does invite a lot of problems both physically and emotionally. People don’t only eat because of depression, the relationship between eating and depression is vice versa. Also, we have mentioned the health consequences of emotional eating.
In short, the dilemma of stress eating is real and lot of people are struggling with it. As casual as it sounds, the effects are grave and people seriously need to address it. With few lifestyle changes, you can avoid it for sure!