Stress eating is one of the most common and undetectable eating disorder. Eating during stress is usually unrecognizable and a temporary escape from the stress. This article is based on facts, problems and solutions regarding stress eating to give maximum knowledge to our readers.
What is stress eating?
Stress eating can be defined as:
“Intake of food in response to your feelings and emotions instead of responding to food appetite or hunger is called ” stress eating” or “emotional eating”.“
In general words, you can say that you try to feed your emotions and stress and not your body. Such kind of eating disorder is categorized as stress eating.
Stress in relation to eating habitat
Stress can alter your eating habitats. There is no denying that stress and some emotions influence a lot to your food consumption and daily intake of food. Stress can affect your food consumption in the following two ways:
- Either it makes you under eat by decreasing your appetite.
- Or make you overeat to have a temporary escape from the stress.
According to statistical data
- 27% of adults try to manage stress by eating.
- 34% of people are reported to do overeating.
- 30% of adults skip a meal because of stress.
How does stress make you overeat?
Facts revealed that stress actually increases the production of some hormones that lead to food cravings. Continuous stress results in the secretion of hormone named Cortisol, responsible for increasing appetite. Other hormones also release adrenaline: Epinephrine and norepinephrine.
But it is important to note that the release of cortisol is a normal body mechanism to regain appetite for food. It helps to maintain a normal sugar level. It works to enable the person to fight with stress. However, if the person responds in overeating, then it will be taken as an eating disorder.
How can food reduce stress?
Food really works in reducing stress to some extent. It can help tame stress by several mechanisms like:
- It increases the level of serotonin that helps to calm the brain and give pleasure sensations.
- It can reduce the level of cortisol leading to bring an end to food cravings.
- Stabilizes blood pressure
Food that helps in stress management
Unhealthy food cravings like potato chips do nothing in managing stress. However, there are some food items that can help to reduce stress by increasing dopamine and serotonin level in the body. These foods are listed below:
- Dark chocolate
- Leafy vegetables
- Olive oil
Foods to avoid during stress
- Refined sugar
Signs that show you are a stress eater
Stress eating seems confusing with normal eating and is unrecognizable. There are some common signs that you are stressed or emotional eater like:
- You eat when you don’t feel hungry
- You feel regrets after eating
- You eat unhealthy food like junk food or snacks
- You don’t want people to tell about your food habits and keep it a secret
Emotional eating should be stopped
Emotional eating is not an overall good practice. Because you are eating in emotions, you are feeding your emotions instead of providing fuel to the body. It only gives you a temporary escape and distraction. It cannot take the actual cause of stress away from you. Overeating leads you to obesity and destroys the weight control plan. It can also develop a food addiction.
How to stop emotional eating?
Here are some tips to avoid and overcome stress eating:
- Make a strict diet schedule and follow it
- Try to distract your stress with some other activities instead of eating like starting a puzzle game
- Eat healthy foods
- Think before you eat that either you are feeling hungry or stressed?
- Take your meal in small episodes instead of taking 3 times a day
- Talk with a friend or family member to change your mood.
- Go outside or select a place at home to calm yourselves like terrace, window or in the balcony.
Some general queries:
Q Is it common to eat during stress?
Yes it is the most common eating disorder among the general public.
Q What other feelings can make an individual overeat?
Anger, sadness, and tiredness can also stimulate food cravings and make an individual overeat.
Q How to cope up with stress without eating?
Try to have some walk, exercise, jogging or take 2 minutes deep breath. It will serve as an alternative to food in managing stress.
Before you leave!
Stress eating or emotional eating is not healthy for your body. It is just a temporary solution for stress that leads to permanent and long-lasting troubles like obesity and overweight.
A student of Pharm D from University of Karachi. She has keen interest in all the attributes towards pharmacy especially community pharmacy and hospital pharmacy with an objective to make medications sound and safe. She loves to provide information about Pharmaceutical Analysis and Pharmacology in a best way so people with no medical background can understand.