Do you ever have one of those days when everything seems to be going wrong, when your stress levels are off the charts, and you find yourself reaching out for your “comfort food” to feel better?
Based on a report by American Psychological Association, in the United States, 38 percent of adults reported overeating because of stress or in attempts to distract themselves from stress. Half of these adults (49 percent) said they engaged in these behaviours every week—sometimes more than once.
Likewise, many of us turn to food to ‘fill’ our emotional needs. A tub of ice-cream to drown the loneliness, a pizza after a stressful day at work, or a trip to the drive-through to suppress your anxiety. If your emotions nudge you towards food, even when you are not hungry, then you too have fallen victim to stress eating—also called emotional eating.
While we are all aware that stress is bad for us, how we deal with the stress can sometimes be just as bad. In this feature, Soulveda list ways to cut down stress eating and develop healthier eating habits, even when you’re overly emotional.
Keep a food journal to practice mindfulness
Your emotions have the power to influence your choices and decisions. Unhealthy eating habits stem from the same place when you let your emotions run amok. By being mindful, you can put a leash on your emotions and prevent stress eating from cultivating.
Mindfulness is about being aware of what you’re eating, when you’re eating, and more importantly, were you hungry at the time. Maintaining a food journal is an easy way to do so. Each time you write about what you are eating, it will help you recognise harmful eating habits and patterns. You can address the issue head-on and restrain your urges and stressors better.
Each time you write about what you are eating, it will help you recognise harmful eating habits and patterns.
Take proactive measures
Author Karen Salmansohn says, “Food can distract you from pain. But food cannot take away your pain. In fact, overeating the wrong foods can create more pain.” Physical or emotional unrest and pain are believed to be one of the biggest triggers for making poor food choices. When we are in pain, we ‘binge’ on food items that comfort us, but unfortunately, such behaviourial patterns promote weight gain, poor health, and low mood, worsening the situation.
Instead of ‘eating’ your feelings away, take proactive actions to put your stress eating to rest. If stress forces you towards the pantry, you need to manage your stress differently. Try yoga, meditation, or choose a stress buster of your choice that isn’t food! If work pressure or relationship issues are your concerns, talk to someone. Discuss an action plan and solutions to deal with the challenges.