10 ways to stop stress eating

Girl eating chocolate

Stress eating -What is it , can we avoid it?

In our life, we go through several emotions. Some are positive and some are negative. However, all emotions are important. As humans, we deal with positive and negative emotions in different ways.

Have you ever thought, why do i eat when i’m stressed?

Having a bad day at work, unable to handle pressure of exams, losing a pet, there are many such reasons to trigger stress, a negative emotion. Fortunately, as human beings we are hardwired to try to reduce stress and uncomfortable feelings.

There are several mechanisms to cope with stress. Some people may prefer to engage in exercise, while some may prefer loneliness. Eating on other hand is one of the fastest and easiest “stress response” we can use to deal with stress, but it’s not always an ideal one.

Stress eating is not always psychological. Sometimes, it may also originate from physiological stress such as eating disorder, illness, drug withdrawal which can be very challenging.

Most of the time we cannot completely eliminate these stress. However, the good news is we can reduce the negative impact of stress through other strategies.

How does stress affect your weight loss journey?

Stress can stimulate our endocrine system to release a stress hormone called “cortisol”. Research also shows that stress increases the concentration of Ghrelin, a hormone often referred to as the “hunger hormone”.  High ghrelin levels are thought to bring about an anxiolytic (similar to antidepressant ) effect which mitigates depression. At the same time it results in increased food intake which may result in increased body weight.

Several studies support the fact that the people with high cortisol reactivity report greater snacking in response to daily stressors. 

How do you identify if you are a stress eater?

Stress eating is often accompanied by loneliness, anxiety, depression, anger, and sorrow. Bearing one of these emotional stresses and craving for sugary or fat rich food are symptoms of stress eating.

The effects of stress eating on your body?

Stress eating is a matter of concern when it’s used as the only attempt to control stress. Managing stress only by eating, contributes to over-eating, or causes guilt or shame after eating.

Long term stress eating may elevate an individuals calorie intake leading to obesity. Long term obesity may also lead to other health conditions.

10 ways to stop stress eating

  • Increase your self awareness. Perform a daily “check-in” with yourself to understand which emotions drive stress eating.
  • Drink plenty water
  • Find a safe place to vent your negative emotions. This could be achieved by going for a walk, writing a journal or working out.
  • If you feel lonely, reach out to people. Talk to your friends and family.
  • Eat regularly and fuel your body with nutritious vegetable, fruits and whole foods.
  • If tiredness cause stress, take rest or a nap. Slow down and get plenty of sleep.
  • If you are feeling sad, ask for support. In some cases, you may need to allow yourself to grieve and mourn.
  • Practice mindfulness and focus on the present. A meditation session can help you to calm your mind.
  • Wash your face with cold water or take a shower.
  • Do more of the things you love. It may be getting involved with your favourite hobbies such as drawing, singing, dancing, playing music instruments or playing a video game.

Most importantly, understand that stress eating is a “coping mechanism” as result of stress. More often it is not a real hunger call. Eating habits can be managed through various other coping modes covered in this article, which doesn’t always need increasing your calorie intake.

Furthermore, regular exercise and balanced diet will be help to recover hormone imbalance helping you to maintain a good mental and physical health.

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