Many people experience stress eating or emotional eating at one time or the other, but it often goes unnoticed. But how do you know whether you are indeed stress eating? Let us find out with a simple quiz! Have you ever felt the urge to devour your favorite cookie or snacks to overcome or neglect your feelings? Do you feel emotionally satisfied after you eat pleasurably? Do you overindulge yourself in eating when you’re bored?
If your answer was yes to any of the questions, then you might be ignoring a difficult problem that can adversely affect your health. People become so habituated with mindlessly eating stuff that it turns into a stress eating disorder in the long run, but it’s important to overcome stress eating nevertheless.
What actually is Stress Eating?
Stress eating is the state of mind wherein people have the tendency to replace complicated emotional feelings with food, even though they might not be hungry at all.
The term “stress eating” has a meaning to it. The hormones released when you’re stressed impulses you to ingest foods with a high volume of carbohydrates, fats, sugars and calories and the least amount of nutritional content. People prefer food items like french fries, burgers, pizzas, cookies, chocolates and ice creams.
A research study by the American Psychological Association claims about one-fourth of America’s population have a stress quotient as high as eight on a scale of 10 points.
Psychologists link emotional eating with clinical depression, but people who don’t suffer from that might momentarily adopt alternative methods to deal with their emotions. This behaviour is exceedingly common, and it can interfere with your healthy diet routine and can eventually lead to obesity.
Binge Eating V/s Emotional Eating
People often confuse binge eating with emotional eating; there is a striking difference between them. The main difference between them is the quantity of food consumed. While stress eating is usually done to regulate emotions like boredom, tension, loneliness or sadness, binge eating is defined as eating larger portions of food than other people with time and situations being constant. Both the disorders might involve craving for food, but emotional eating includes repetitive episodes of compulsive overeating, whereas the binges might occur fleetingly.
Signs You Shouldn't Ignore
We don’t pay much attention to our eating habits and patterns, but here is a list of few signs that you should not ignore:
1.You seek comfort in food.
When you’re feeling low, and you seek comfort eating, there is an unknown feeling of being complete when you eat. If you find utmost salvation after eating ice creams, chocolates, pizzas, knowing the zero nutritional value of these foods, it might be a sign you would not want to ignore.
2.You can’t stop yourself from eating.
You have the urge to eat even when you’re not hungry, and while eating, you can’t stop yourself knowing that you should have stopped a long time back. Now and again, you would even make a special effort just to get food or to fulfill a specific craving, although you may not be hungry at all.
3.You eat so that you can feel happier and are fascinated by it.
There is a vast difference between appreciating food and constantly thinking about it. You frequently derive emotions of happiness when you eat food. You feel as if you’re at the top of the world when you eat food. You can’t stop thinking about food even when you’re not eating.
4.Your cravings are unforeseen.
You have impulses to eat a specific food, and you can’t explain the urges. You don’t need to be hungry, it’s just a craving that should be fulfilled, or you’ll have a gloomy day.
If you resonate with these feelings, there is a need to overcome stress eating because the negative effects of it will make your life all the more difficult. Some of them include emotional eating which usually comes from an issue that has not been addressed, switching to stress eating will only make the situation worse. The trigger which caused stress eating will remain unresolved. It will become a never-ending cycle of being dependent on food to overcome your emotions. You will always live in a bubble of “imaginary happiness”.
How to overcome Stress Eating?
To overcome stress eating, there is a need to tame your stress level. The best way to deal with stress is to address current situations and learn to be prepared to handle stressful situations in the future before both the problem and your eating behavior get out of hand. Follow these 5 steps to overcome your stress eating:
1. Identify your stress-busters
The first and foremost thing is to identify things that trigger you, make you emotional and lead you to the path of stress eating. Once you know the cause of the problem, you’ll be able to take steps to avoid them.
2. Follow a regular exercise regime
Being physically fit reduces the chances of being stressed or emotionally depressed. There is a significant decrease in the levels of stress if you exercise regularly. If you’re physically unfit to exercise, resort to activities like walking, gardening and other forms of light exercising.
3. Seek Help
Seeking support from your family, friends and people you count on and talking about your feelings can make you feel a lot lighter than you expect. They will help you deal with tough situations, if you still feel constant guilt, remorse and shame about your eating habits, consult a professional counsellor at the earliest.
4. Practice Mindfulness
Meditation, yoga, and tai chi are a few examples of mindfulness exercises. They make you calm and help you focus which in turn stimulates you to make healthier and smarter lifestyle choices.
5.Remove all the tempting foods from home
When you’ll remove the snacks or food items that you like to eat, there will be a cut down in the intake of food. If you have sudden urges to eat something, switch to healthy snacking. You can even buy low-calorie versions of your favorite foods.
Stress eating is a serious problem, but once you identify your problems or triggers and take steps to improve them, you'll be able to curb them effectively. So, next time you overeat, remember these points!