The word ‘stress’ has been etched in our minds as something that is not worth having. That is true for every situation. Good stress helps you stay on your feet and gives you the right mix of alertness, burst of speed, and energy to get out of the situation that is demanding of you. This is why when you are stressed, your body switches to what is called the fight-or-flight mode. In this mode, there is the shutting down of all non-essential bodily functions and processes, and ramping up of the production of certain hormones.
One of the several hormones, whose production is bumped up, is cortisol; which is called the stress hormone. It is known to suppress appetite for a short term. However, the long term effects are quite the opposite, and those reading this can relate to. Chronic stress puts your body in a state of a constant burden that degrades you. This state of constant alertness would have suited well if you were in the wild, but sitting in your bed in a cozy suburb hardly is deemed as life-threatening. There is a multitude of issues that chronic stress has, and unfortunately, overeating is just one of them.
The Warning Signs That You Are A Stress Eater
Do you jump for the tub of ice cream sitting in the freezer, when you are remotely worried? Well, you are not alone. There are close to half of the population in the US, that is beaten down with chronic stress. Who wouldn’t be? The low pay, dropping interest rates on savings deposits, inflation skyrocketing – all of these are sufficient to get you worried. Are you a stress eater? You may be if…
- You eat when you aren’t particularly hungry or tired
- You end up stuffing yourself when you are stressed and worried
- You eat to make yourself feel better
- You consider food to be a safety net in times of strain
- You just can’t help but eat when you are stressed
If this is something that you indulge only rarely, then it is fine. However, if this is the scene that plays out every other day, say 3 times a week, then you, my friend are a stress eater! This can lead to a host of health problems if you let it go out of hand.
What Are The Dangers Of Stress Eating?
Eating as a means to shelter yourself, can cause plenty of emotional, mental, and physical side effects. A few of these are:
- You gain weight and tip the scales
- You begin to crave comfort food often – more sugar, more salt, and more fats!
- You have a feeling of guilt and shame by the time you are done with your ‘session’
- You are at a higher risk of diabetes and heart diseases
- Increased HbA1c and insulin levels
There are cases where stress eating can come from eating disorders such as binge eating order (BED), which is a disorder causing you to have uncontrolled eating and causing you to feel overwhelmed. If you have a habit of doing the above, and alarm bells are ringing while you are reading this, then you need help. These are the symptoms of a much larger underlying problem, and what you need is a professional specializing in such a condition.
If you don’t want to live your life controlled by food and stress, then here are a few ways in which you can turn the tide against your favor.
Tips To Stop Stress Eating
Switch To Plant-Based Eating
One of the ways to stay off of fatty, fried foods is to completely cut it off of your diet. A plant-based diet is a great way to cleanse your body and restart it from the ground up. Substitute your dishes with plant-based food alternatives. The gains you are to receive from switching to such a diet is truly astonishing.
What Are Your Triggers?
If you want food especially when you are not starving, then ask yourself the question: why do I need to eat at present? Do I need to relieve anxiety and stress or am I just hungry? Am I feeling overwhelmed and want something to occupy my mind? Understanding why and when you are having these urges is the first way to deal with it. Then, you can begin to find constructive ways to mitigate the root causes of the underlying food problem. Once you know the triggers, then you can start to rid the house of problematic foods that are making you lose control.
Have An Alternative Plan Of Action
Eating was a way for your mind to keep itself busy. There are certain activities like going for a walk, calling a supportive friend, or engaging in stretching or yoga, that can help you re-direct the angst.
Stick to these, and you are sure to clear your plate.