But our lives are sooo stressful and I need to EAT to feel better…
Let’s be honest, most of us feel the stress of the 21st century lifestyle, everything seems to be faster paced. In many large cities around the world, people are moving at paces more rapid than ever before! The invention of the internet and smart phones increases the demand on the work force and consequently, results in higher stress levels at work. People are receiving more and more stress from their job, family, school, and friends simply because how globally interconnected we are nowadays. Most people are stressed out by their jobs, relationships, and other matters in life- And quite commonly, many, will turn to the one universal thing to ‘heal’ themselves, FOOD or otherwise what we know as in this article as STRESS EATING.
An increasingly alarming number of people tend to use ‘Food’ as a way to make ourselves feel better or deal with stress. Many have the ‘self-belief’ that “EATING” your way through a stressful period is the best way to relieve their stress. It does not help either when given how lucky we are nowadays, most individuals are spoiled for choices of different types of food choices and with an abundance of items when it comes to food. Many also tend to use the excuse of having ‘Comfort food’ as a source to alleviate the stress from day-to-day work…
What is comfort food?
Comfort food as described by some psychologist are food that is characterized by it’s high-caloric nature, high carbohydrate content, and flavorful taste.
Comfort food can be anything, for many people, it is the food that brings them the most pleasure, the types of food that gives you this nostalgic feeling, as if you are eating your mom’s apply crumble pie once again.
Why does stress eating exists or occur?
When you are dealing with a large amount of stress, your body activates your adrenal glands and releases a hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol, is a stress hormone and has been well-known for increasing an individual’s appetite.
It is unfortunate, but many people are merely seeking to be disconnected from the moment. And what is a better idea than indulging in mindless eating and munching on food containing high amount of calories and carbohydrates. Many people falls victim to the pitfalls of stress eating. Aside from trying to escape from the moment, sometimes, people also wants that go in search of that ‘feel good factor’, and as you may have guessed, the ‘feel good factor’ comes from eating fattening food- and in large amounts- or at least more than one would normally eat.
“People tend to feel ‘out-of-control’ and ‘overwhelmed’ by the reality they are in and therefore, tries to look for an escape…”
This leads to the next issue, which is binge eating, the people that tend to have a habit of stress eating has a really high tendency to binge eat. When the binge eating occurs, for some reason, the brain does not automatically tell the person to stop eating or resist any food, even if that person is feeling full. Instead, it just allows the person to keep going on eating until the person loses track of how much they have been stuffing their own faces.
As you could imagine, this could be a huge issue for those trying to lose weight or those that are trying to control and watch their weight, stress eating can cause a lot of undesired issues with weight control.
How to Avoid Stress Eating?
Awareness is the key to preventing stress eating. A lot of people are unconscious about what they are putting in their mouths during the moment of stress and frustration. Most of the times, this is the reason why people gain weight unconsciously. People do not realize how often they are being frustrated and how they deal with it (by eating). And before you know it, you are piling on the pounds and kilograms and, weight gain, by itself, could also be another independent source of stress and frustration all by itself.
Being conscious about your own emotions is also an important factor in preventing stress eating, identify and confront your feelings and do your best not to vent the frustration through eating.
One alternative or suggestion to replace eating with a method to vent frustration is to find a hobby, it could be something that is more physically demanding, such as a sport or a martial arts (e.g. Kickboxing or Muay Thai, MMA or basically anything that fits your needs etc). Sometimes, you may also choose to address these frustrations by speaking to a friend or family about your frustration, rather than sitting alone sulking in a pastry or coffee shop munching down on cakes and sweet treats.
Being mindful will also help with the situation, instead of ‘zoning-out’, come back to the present and be bold with facing the reality. Be mindful about what the real issue is and tackle the real issues instead of attempting to run from it. Think about the long term effects of not solving your issue at hand immediately, instead of thinking about running from it, find a solution for it instead.
What are immediate steps I can take to avoid stress eating?
You managed to identified the reason causing your stress as suggested above, the next step is to make it fool proof. One measure is to avoid having food around the areas that tends to trigger your frustration or increases your stress levels. Avoid having food that is convenient to grab and munch on mindlessly.
Each time you feel an urge to munch on something due to frustration, always start a countdown from 5 to 0, and tell yourself that you are going to do something else other than eating to vent this frustration. It could be as simple as taking a walk, or speaking to someone about your true opinion or thoughts.
“Have a strong and determined mind…”
One of the biggest keys is to have a very strong resolve and restraint from succumbing to the temptations of eating for the purpose of venting any frustration. Deal with the real problem as mention above, do not try to run from the issue. It is always easier said than done but ultimately, our mind controls our actions, have a strong and determined mindset and avoid stress eating altogether.
If you have any queries or comments, feel free to leave them below. Alternatively, you may also consider reaching out to me personally at Merrell@sustainableweightlosshabits.com