Our scientific answer to the question, How to stop stress eating.

Image of a woman stress eating a pizza

Stress eating -What is it , how to stop stress eating?

If you are wondering “How to stop stress eating?” look no further! This article has got you covered. In our lives, we cycle through a range of emotions; some positive, some negative. Yet, every emotion plays a crucial role. Being human, we handle these emotions differently.

Have you ever wondered, why do I eat when I’m stressed?

A person stress eating chips

Having a bad day at work, feeling overwhelmed by exam pressures, losing a pet; there are many triggers for stress, a negative emotion. Luckily, we are hardwired to reduce stress and uncomfortable feelings.

There are several mechanisms to cope with stress. Some people prefer exercise, while others seek solitude. Eating, on the other hand, is one of the fastest and easiest “stress responses” we can use to deal with stress, though it’s not always the best one.

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

Most of the time, we cannot completely eliminate these stresses. However, we can minimize the negative impact of stress through various strategies.

How does stress affect your weight loss journey?

Stress stimulates 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 can bring about an anxiolytic (similar to antidepressant) effect that mitigates depression. At the same time, it increases food intake, which may result in weight gain.

Several studies support the fact that 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. Experiencing any of these emotional stresses and craving sugary or fat-rich food are symptoms of stress eating.

The effects of stress eating on your body?

Stress eating becomes a problem when it’s the only method used to control stress. Managing stress solely by eating can lead to over-eating, or induce feelings of guilt or shame after eating.

Long-term stress eating may increase an individual’s calorie intake leading to obesity. Long-term obesity may also lead to other health conditions.

How to stop stress eating then? Follow our handy tips below.

Increase self awareness.

To avoid stress eating, various strategies can be employed. The first step is to increase self-awareness. It’s important to understand your emotional triggers that lead to stress eating. A daily self “check-in” can be a helpful tool in identifying these emotions. Acknowledge your feelings and understand that these emotions are momentary and not a part of your core self.

Hydration and Nutrition

Hydration and nutrition are also crucial in dealing with stress eating. A well-hydrated body functions more efficiently, and proper hydration can also assist in controlling hunger pangs. Fuel your body with nutritious food options. Include a generous amount of vegetables, fruits, and whole foods in your diet. These food items are not only healthy but also keep you fuller for a longer period, reducing the urge to stress eat.

Reach out to friends and family

In response to how to stop stress eating, an image depicting reaching out to family is shown.

Loneliness can often lead to stress eating. If you find yourself feeling isolated, make an effort to reach out to people. Engage in healthy conversations with your friends and family. Social interactions can be a great way to divert your mind from stress eating.

Sleep and rest

In response to how to stop stress eating, an image depicting a person sleeping and resting is shown.

Tiredness and lack of rest can also trigger stress eating. Make sure to get a good amount of sleep and rest when needed. If you are feeling overwhelmed, taking a nap can refresh your mind and reduce the urge to stress eat. Prioritize your sleep schedule and ensure that you are getting enough rest.

Seek support or counselling

In situations where sadness or grief is causing stress, it’s important to seek support. It’s okay to grieve and mourn. Reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or a professional counselor who can provide the needed emotional support.

Practice mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness and focusing on the present can be beneficial in reducing stress. Mindfulness helps you focus on your current state and distracts you from past worries and future anxieties. A meditation session can help calm your mind and reduce the urge to stress eat.

Engage in activities that you love.

Lastly, engage in activities that you love. This could be anything from drawing, singing, dancing, playing musical instruments, to video gaming. Participating in hobbies not only distracts your mind but also releases endorphins, the body’s natural mood boosters, helping you combat stress more effectively.

Most importantly, stress eating is a “coping mechanism” as a result of stress. More often than not, it is not a real hunger call. Eating habits can be managed through the various coping methods mentioned in this article, which don’t always involve increasing your calorie intake.

Additionally, regular exercise and a balanced diet will help to recover hormone imbalance, aiding you in maintaining good mental and physical health.

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