When you reach out for a craving, there is one question you must ask yourself, Do you want to eat something now because you are hungry or because you feel stressed out. For many individuals, eating is triggered by tough times, depression, being upset or just a stressful day. When such happens, this is called Stress Eating or otherwise known as Emotional Eating. In order to feel better and manage this daily stress, comfort is usually found in food.
People who stress eat could do so as often as stress is triggered. However, they often feel bad after doing so, after all, they were not actually hungry. The downside of this is that while we feel that urge to take a bite of something, we tend to reach out for junk foods, ice creams, sweets, pizza etc. thereby having too much of what is not necessarily good for the body. If this is not curtailed on time, it could develop into a serious habit and can lead to health hazards such as weight gain among st others.
You would think that stress eating will make you feel better and come out of that stress/ problems. In fact, it actually makes you feel worse, the problems remains
The emotional cycle
- You get upset and stressed out
- Suddenly you are overwhelmed with an urge to eat something now
- You do eat but eat more than needed
- You feel bad for indulging in eating
Causes of Emotional Eating
Stress – This is the most common cause of emotional eating. Stress can actually make one feel hungry and have the urge to find something and immediately. Our chaotic world of pressures, work and deadlines can leave one really stressed out. When this happens, the body produces some high levels of stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is responsible for cravings for foods that can produce a fast burst of energy, such as sweets, fried foods and other fast foods.
Boredom and loneliness– ever wonder that whenever you are alone, with nothing to do but just thoughts in your head and absolute nothing to do. Now consider if this was actually your life now, it has evolved into loneliness with an emptiness and void. One way people try to fill that void is Emotional eating.
Bad Emotions—having raging emotions like fear, anger, sadness, anxiety and resentment can trigger cravings
Habits– naturally if some habits regarding foods have already been formed, it maybe quite hard to stop it. If one is so used to reaching out for an ice cream or some sweets, it will trigger an emotional attachment to them
How to Stop Emotional Eating
It could be challenging taking your mind off your stress triggers. However, it is possible to overcome them when you feel overwhelmed. Here are a few tips that could be helpful–
- Avoid being alone and lonely for too long- if being alone makes you think of food, try going out or get some company, invite friends and take your mind off it.
- Engage in outdoor activities- you can go out. Take a walk, go to the cinema, play songs, attend gatherings etc. this will help
- Exercise- most people find relief when they exercise their body. You can take a walk, go jogging, hiking, bike riding, do some yoga or just head to the gym. These are excellent ways of keeping your mind and cravings under control
- Listen to music and dance it off—music is indeed enriching to the mind. Whichever type you are into, from pop, reggae, jazz, religious etc, there must be one with a rhythm that soothes your emotions and calms you down. Taking your mind off your anxiety and stress.
- Practice Deep Breathing- when you feel stuffed, try taking a few deep long breaths. It helps relax the mind and body. Taking off pressure from your muscles. As simple as it sounds, this simple technique goes a long way in reducing the Cortisol level in the body.
- Join a support program—if you discover that you have lost control and can’t stop stress eating, one way to help yourself is to join a support group. These groups can guide you through your emotional trauma or habits. Just like people join support groups for habits like smoking or drinking. These groups are designed to actually guide one to definite ways of fighting these habits.
- Ensure to sleep well— Sometimes, sleep deprivation has a way of stressing one out. Lack of proper sleep can induce stress and hunger induced hormonal imbalance among-st others. So ensure to get enough rest when needed
- Eat healthy diet– Eat when hungry and of course, don’t just grab something, take something healthy. There are a bunch of health snacks that can keep us going such as carrots, bananas, yogurt etc. when you need to take a meal, take a proper meal. This will nourish your body and ensure it gets what is needed and when needed