Stress and its link to Emotional Eating
What is stress?
We currently live in a time where unfortunately stress and being stressful has become a normal part and parcel of everyday life. Things that effect our stress levels include:
• Your job
• Financial obligations
• Long hours / Deadlines
• Potential emotional difficulties (Anxiety, Depression etc..)
All of these are big contributors to stress in our lives.
How do we react?
Now we are all different people and how we react to certain stressors are therefore also going to be different.
• Some use it as motivation to work harder and longer (as the day goes, diamonds are forged under pressure)
• Some may harness their stress levels and use it as a reason to exercise, unwind and clear the mind.
• Yet for a lot of people, consciously or subconsciously we tend to use food and eating food as our main comfort to stress.
The negative effect of Emotional eating
Eating food in general can be a pleasurable experience and most people do it because they just like to and it makes us feel happy, hence why we go out to eat with friends and family, for a good time…. HOWEVER,….
• Have you ever noticed when you are at home bored, lonely, or depressed this emotional hunger starts to kick in?
• Have you also noticed the foods consumed in these moments tend to be high energy, snack related foods that carry more sugar, salt, and fat levels?
Well, eating these types of unhealthy foods consistently has actually been shown to increase weight gain, sabotaging all previous dietary and training efforts and if anything, these food types usually leaves you feeling worse off than when you began.
How to stop this ‘Emotional Eating’
Usually emotional eating is done to fill a void at that certain moment in time. When you think “I’ll get something to eat”, it is usually because your mind is distracted, and you may not be thinking 100% clearly. i.e. yes, you’re thinking this chocolate bar will be perfect right about now, but are you also thinking of the impact that consuming this chocolate bar can have?
What can we do?
If you ever feel like you are about to go rummaging around the cupboards why not try some new simple yet effective coping strategies..
• Writing in a journal, how your feeling, what you are doing. (Talking it out even to yourself can be effective)
• Intense coping strategy such as exercise – Going for a run or performing some HIIT training can fully distracts the mind and get them endorphins going. (Happy Hormones).
• Calm coping strategy such as having a hot bath/meditation – Something that can completely relax you and take you to another place mentally.
• Go for a walk / Read a book / Do some crafts – this involves light yet time consuming activities that can take away from that feeling of food.
• If you can’t stop your self-getting some food, why not try replacing your snack with some fruit instead?
• ESSENTIALLY, FILL A VOID!!
It is however important to remember that food is there to be eaten and enjoyed and sometimes it may take eating something a little sweet, salty, or even fatty to put us back in a good mood.
If you do sometimes find yourself reverting back to these foods, then don’t beat yourself up about it, we can’t always be 100% perfect all of the time. But just remember, if we constantly rely on these types of food when feeling stressed, there are going to be negative outcomes and therefore it’s on us and our will power to limit our total consumption where and when we can.
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