Stress is a reality in most people’s life. When stress grips you, there’s no time to stop for it. Unfortunately, besides the direct effects stress can have on your health (e.g. hypertension, heart disease), it’s the number one cause of overeating. So the next time you’re under a lot of stress, before hitting the fast food restaurant, learn whether you were driven there by your emotions.
What is emotional eating?
It occurs when your feelings dictate whether you are hungry or not. Also, you eat to soothe your feelings when something is wrong.
Remember, eating is a pleasurable activity and stimulates the same center of the brain that releases those “feel good” endorphins.
Wouldn’t you know it; celery is not a comfort food that makes you feel good. You will rather eat foods like macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, potato chips, ice cream and anything made from dough.
The way to counter emotional eating is to focus on your body. Recognize that you are stressed or upset or sad. Pay particular attention to how and what you eat when you are on the emotional roller coaster.
- You are hit by hunger all of the sudden. You may have eaten not long before. Instead of reaching for the chips, think about what may be causing your perceived hunger.
- You eat and eat without ever feeling full. Emotional eating can be mind-numbing. You continue to shovel in the food even if you are not hungry. It is a mechanism to cope with your emotions instead of facing the situation that is causing the problem.
- You are making food choices that you wouldn’t normally make. Remember those comfort foods? If you were set to make dinner for the family, stopping off at drive-thru and buying pizza or a greasy hamburger could be due to emotional issues. Experiencing depression can lead to eating unhealthy foods and feeling guilty later.
Stress gets to everyone. Don’t let it ruin your healthy routine. Recognize when you are in the midst of an emotional crisis and watch what you eat.