Have you ever wondered why you eat so much when you are under a huge amount of stress? This might be stress eating or emotional eating. As we are all stuck at home due to the pandemic, it’s possible to have the worst thoughts that take a toll on our minds. While it’s okay to eat when you are stressed, overeating might be a problem and can lead to unnecessary and unwanted weight gain. 

But why do you eat more when you are stressed? Is there any scientific reason behind it? Well, yes there is! Your stress and your eating habits might be linked to each other. If you are someone who eats a lot while stressing over things, you might be a stress eater. Read on to find out some facts about stress eating and how to stop stress eating! 

What Is Stress Eating?

Eating when you are not hungry is a dilemma many of us face in our daily lives. This can be due to boredom and even stress. Stress eating means that your emotions control when and how much you eat. For example, while you binge eat, your boredom is what makes you overeat. However, emotional eating involves stress overtaking your eating habit. Remember that stress eating and eating disorders are different and it’s important to differentiate between the two. 

If you feel you have an eating disorder, you might need special treatment with the help of a doctor or a dietician/nutritionist. In simple words, emotional or stress eating is a pattern of eating where people use food or binge eat to cope with stress. Many people experience this phenomenon at some point in their life. Emotional eating happens when a person frequently deals with their stress through eating overly to suppress the negative emotions in their life such as stress, anger, fear, or sadness. This habit may sabotage your weight loss efforts and goals. 

Also read: Binge Eating Disorders

Why Does this Happen? 

There’s a connection between stress and our hunger. However, this connection isn’t alike for all.  Some people may forget or ignore to eat or do not feel hungry at all while they are stressed and for some people, hunger becomes a coping action for their stress. Those who overeat while they are overwhelmed or stressed distract themselves by eating. When you’re feeling stressed, your body sends cortisol which is a stress hormone. This stress hormone makes you crave fatty, sugary, and salty foods to overcome the stress that, when eaten overly, can interfere with your body and health. 

Stress can also affect your metabolism. Research has shown that experiencing multiple stressful events the day before eating a high-fat meal can slow down the metabolism in the body in such a way that women could potentially see a potential 11-pound weight gain over the year. If you would want to eat veggies when you’re stressed, that’d be quite okay but most probably a stress eater would eat high-fat food to handle their negative emotions as the least healthy food usually offer high comfort. 

Also read: Emotion-Focused Therapy

How to Stop Stress Eating? 

Many people overeat while they are stressing over something, feel regretful, and feel bad about their bodies after binge eating, which causes a lot more stress, especially for someone who is trying to lose weight. 

Stress Eating
Stress Eating

You first need to find the reason you’re feeling too overwhelmed and try to stop this whole cycle and try overcoming stress with actual coping strategies. Here are some tips to get rid of stress eating: 

1. Prepare a Meal Schedule 

Maintaining a meal schedule can help preserve normal eating habits. Being stuck at home can make you eat a lot but make sure you maintain a meal schedule that guides you to sustain your normal eating habits. If you normally eat three meals a day, try to continue doing that. Try to maintain a regular and healthy eating pattern at your preferred eating times. This will help you not overeat.  

Also read: Bulimia Nervosa

2. Stay Physically Fit 

Exercise is a great way to keep yourself stress-free and distracted from negative emotions. It keeps your body fit and appetite in check. Exercise causes chemical changes in your body that reduce stress and keep your body healthy. Try walking, gardening, cleaning, and other lighter forms of movement if you don’t have time or you are unable to do formal exercises. 

3. Pay Attention to What your Body is Trying to Tell you 

Sometimes you need to listen to what your body tells you. Feeling hungry and wanting to eat to change your emotions are two different things. Know the difference between the two. Try eating something that feeds your appetite fully and if you still want to eat after a short time, this might be due to your emotions and not hunger. 

Also read: Best Foods For PMS

4. Eat Nutritious Food 

Eat Nutritious Food
Eat Nutritious Food

If you love eating food when you are stressed why not eat something nutritious and filling at the same time? It can help you improve overall health and combat stress. Nutritious and filling foods help your stomach stay full and happy. Nuts, seeds, veggies, and eggs are some examples of nutritious and fiber rich food that is great for your appetite. 

5. Try Relaxation Techniques 

While controlling your emotions by changing eating habits is a great way to cope with this phenomenon, you should also focus on coping with your stress, which is the overall reason you might be eating overly. It’s okay to feel mad, lonely, and bored sometimes but acknowledge and try to fix them. Find your ways to relieve stress. Distract yourself from stress by doing things that you love. 

Try talking to your friends, family, or a therapist and share your interest and stories with them to fight your stress. This was all about stress eating and how to overcome this phenomenon. Eat healthily and mindfully, it’s a way to a healthy life! 

Read next: Best Foods For Upset Stomach