What Are Some Of The Causes Of Emotional Eating
- Boredom: We all have different definitions of boredom, but it usually focuses around having nothing to do or the task we are doing just seems pointless. This can leave us searching for something to pass the time by, enticing us to eat and potentially leading to emotional eating.
- Old habits: Maybe your work colleagues would order fast food for the office for lunch every day, and even though you’re in a new job now, you still find yourself ordering fast food several times a day. I always say that habits are learned, which means they can be unlearned and replaced with a new, healthier habit.
- Finances, work stress, and social interactions: Too much or too little social interaction can influence our cravings. If you’re pent up with your spouse or roommates, and they tend to eat a lot of junk food, you may be tempted to do so as well. Maybe after a big blowout fight you feel the need to eat lots of sugar, or perhaps you just feel lonely and a warm cookie feels like a big hug at the end of the stressful work day. This is all fine if you truly listen to your body, honor your cravings, and feel in control. But if stress seems to be leading your emotions to get the best of you and resulting in poor food choices over and over again, it may be time to make a change. Food is food it’s not your best friend and it’s not your worst enemy. If you’re looking to food to solve your problems, you’ll quickly realize it won’t.
Check If You’re Really Hungry
If you just ate a big meal and are still reaching for snacks, ask yourself: Are you hungry, or are your emotions causing the cravings? You may want to do something different until the urge passes, like take a walk or call a friend. Or you could try to drink some water. Your body may be trying to tell you its dehydrated.
What Are The Consequences Of Stress Eating
The most obvious consequence of stress eating is weight gain.
But stress eating is a self-perpetuating cycle that actually increases stress in the long-term, rather than addressing it.
Stress eating only soothes stress on a very short-term basis. As soon as those feel-good hormones have worn off, the craving returns.
When you use food to meet an emotional need instead of a physical one, you feel good in the moment. The food satisfies your need for distraction and comfort.
But when the original bad feeling returns, its accompanied by another bad feeling:
Feel bad, eat, feel bad, eat. And so on.
If you put on a significant amount of weight, you might feel bad about that too, adding more fuel to the vicious cycle of stress eating.
So the consequence of stress eating is likely to be more stress eating.
And the only solution is to break that cycle.
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In Need Of Stress Relief The Answer Might Be In Your Diet
Stress-relief doesn’t just come from exercise.
Not that these practices aren’t great ways to relieve and manage stress, but since they sort of “steal the spotlight,” if you will, diet is often overlooked as part of the stress-fighting picture.
“Eating a healthy diet can reduce the negative effects of stress on your body,” said Matthew J. Kuchan, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at Abbott. “A healthy diet builds a solid, more enduring foundation for your body by reducing oxidation and inflammation and by helping to reduce weight gain.”
Of course, and especially when we’re extra busy and, subsequently, more likely to be stressed, eating healthy is certainly not an easy habit to maintain. For many, prepping healthy meals doesn’t always fit into a busy schedule and dining out is the norm more often than not.
“This generally contributes to a less healthy diet,” Kuchan said. “We all know how easy it is to treat ourselves to that rich, high-fat meal we have been craving but would usually not fix for ourselves.”
How Exactly Do Healthy Foods Reduce Stress?
“Stress negatively affects blood pressure and blood flow,” Kuchan said. “There is a strong relationship between fluctuations in brain blood flow and brain health and these compounds over time.”
Nutrients from healthy foods, Kuchan explained, can help improve blood flow in the body.
Kuchan also mentioned that more recent studies are uncovering the stress-fighting effects of plant compounds.
Pause When Cravings Hit And Check In With Yourself
Most emotional eaters feel powerless over their food cravings. When the urge to eat hits, its all you can think about. You feel an almost unbearable tension that demands to be fed, right now! Because youve tried to resist in the past and failed, you believe that your willpower just isnt up to snuff. But the truth is that you have more power over your cravings than you think.
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Successfully Managing Stress May Help Control Weight
While stress is an inevitable part of life for many people, the weight gain that can accompany it isnt. Changing your response to stress and adopting strategies to reduce it can keep the numbers on your scale from moving in the wrong direction, says Dr. Stanford.
These five strategies may help:
Burn off tension. Exercise is a crucial component of stress management, because physical activity can actually reduce cortisol levels. But you will find excuses to avoid workouts if you dread them. Finding an activity you love your “soulmate workout,” as Dr. Stanford calls it can help you maintain the regular physical activity you need in order to dissolve daily stress. For some people it might be yoga, for others, high-intensity exercise or a combination of the two.
Prioritize sleep. A lack of sleep can increase the amount of stress hormones circulating in your body. So ensuring you get enough restful slumber is crucial to managing stress effectively. “Avoid screen time at least an hour prior to bedtime,” says Dr. Stanford. This includes your smartphone. The blue light emitted by smartphones can interfere with sleep.
Talk to your doctor. If youre having problems coping with stress or controlling emotional eating, talk to your primary care physician. He or she may be able to refer you to a health coach, support services, or an obesity specialist. Medications might help some people, but these must be taken long-term or you may regain lost weight.
What Foods Reduce And Relieve Stress
What you eat plays a big role in stress management and one of the most nutritious guidelines to follow for stress is eating foods from the Mediterranean diet.
1. Fatty fish
Studies have shown a link between foods high in omega-3 fatty acids and stress reduction. The best source of omega-3 fatty acids is fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, oysters, and anchovies. Plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids include avocados, flaxseeds, and olive oil. Another benefit? Omega-3 fatty acids support heart health.
2. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate can be stress relieving in a couple of ways. First, it provides the emotional boost eating chocolate naturally inspires. Second, it is rich in antioxidants that help scavenge cell-damaging free radicals in the body. Make sure to indulge in this treat in moderation to avoid unnecessary sugar.
3. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits are high in one of the most important nutrients available: Vitamin C. Vitamin C is mostly known for supporting immune health, bone health, and skin health. However, some studies have shown that high levels of Vitamin C may reduce stress levels. An added benefit of getting Vitamin C is that youre also supporting collagen production. Strawberries are also very high in Vitamin C.
4. Protein-rich foods
5. Vitamin B-rich foods
6. Magnesium-rich foods
7. Herbal tea
Teami Relax Tea is the perfect blend to help you wind down. It contains three calming nutrients for stress support:
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How To Stop Stress Eating At Work
If you stress eat at work, the following tips can help:
Start the day with a full stomach
Have a substantial breakfast that keeps you full until lunch. It doesnt take much time to make porridge with fruit and nuts, or scrambled eggs with chopped vegetables.
Research shows that eating most of your calories at breakfast keeps snacking at a minimum for the rest of the day.
Eat plenty of protein and good fats
Protein and good fats keeps blood sugar levels steady over the course of a day.
Because blood sugar dips can contribute to anxiety and depression, that not only means that you stay feeling fuller for longer, but you actually feel less stressed too. Thats what we at Noom call a win/win.
Take regular breaks
That means stepping away from your desk, getting some sunlight, and moving your body.
Spend more time outside
One Noomer realized that meetings were a major source of stress. So she talked to her boss and they started having their 1-to-1 meetings outside while taking a walk.
How To Stop Stress Eating At Night
If youre stressed during the day, did you know that your hormones can drive you to the kitchen at night?
A recent study showed that daytime stress fuels the production of ghrelin at night. So reducing stress at work is important.
Were also more likely to overeat at night time, just because were in close proximity to the kitchen and were less busy with the tasks of the day.
If you stress eat at night, it helps to reduce temptation at home.If the food is there, youll probably eat it. Make sure youre stocked up with healthy snacks, or stop eating after dinner.
Theres no need to eat any more after your last meal of the day, and studies show that its actually beneficial for many people to fast for at least 14 hours overnight.
And if you do get the urge to snack in the evening, try having pre-portioned snacks in your cupboard that will satisfy your urge without leading you to overeat.
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Addictive Properties Of Hyperpalatable Food
Food-intake research indicates there is significant overlap with substance addictions, with much to be learned from this relatively well-established field , including with regards to the role of stress and hyperpalatable food. Stress, particularly uncontrollable stress, is a potent negative reinforcer that promotes the acquisition of drugs of abuse . Pretreatment with corticosterone, thought to mimic the condition of chronic stress, exaggerates this effect . Conversely, adrenalectomy abolishes the effect of stress on drug acquisition .
Common Triggers For Stress Eating
Common triggers for stress eating include uncomfortable emotions like stress, sadness, anger or grief. Know that theres nothing wrong with feeling any of these emotions. And its a great step forward when you recognize when youre stress eating as youre feeling these emotions.
Here are questions I give clients to ask themselves when they notice themselves stress eating:
- What am I feeling right now?
- Do I have an underlying belief about whats going on?
- What is the Truth in this moment?
- Is there something Iam actually wanting, needing in this moment?
- What am I really craving?
- Stress relief?
- Emotional support?
- Connection and Companionship?
We all have blind spots and deeper places that we simply cant coach ourselves through, because we cant see them on our own.
A good transformational coach can help you identify your blind spots, so that your paradigms stop running the show! They can also help you create healthy habits and work healthy foods into your regular meals that nourish your body.
Deep-rooted food issues have an origin that goes back far, often as far back as infancy, and are tied in with the survival instinct. Looking at paradigms is a little like peeling back the layers of an onion, where eventually you get to the core of the issues that cause unconscious eating.
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Stress Relief: How Diet And Lifestyle Can Help
Stress is a common problem that we all have to deal with at some point in our lives. There are many factors that bring stress upon the body external pressures such as work or family responsibilities, and internal influences what we eat and how our digestive, immune and nervous systems are functioning.
The good news is that there are plenty of simple lifestyle changes that we can make to help us to manage our stress levels. However, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, depressed or struggling to cope, help is available visit the NHS website or speak to your GP.
How Can We Tell When Were Stress Eating
Stress eatingor emotional eatingis the act of using food as a way to ease or suppress negative emotions, such as anxiety, boredom, sadness, and anger. Stress can be brought on by big changes and events in your life. However, most often its a result of everyday stressors. It can be hard to identify when its the latter, but its important that you do. Noticing when youre eating to satisfy strong emotions, rather than to satisfy your body, is paramount.
Mindful eating is a great way to figure out when youre stress eating, Baker says. Mindfulness has been researched over the past few decades as a great option to reduce stress and promote health. Ways to practice mindful eating include learning your bodys hunger signals, realizing when youre full, eating without distractions, and asking yourself why youre eating. Find out if youre you eating because youre hungry or to satisfy emotional needs. Things to think about are: Does the hunger come on suddenly? Do you crave specific foods? Do you feel unsatisfied when you eat a normal quantity? Is there a feeling of guilt after? If you answer yes to most of the above, its possible that youre stress eating.
A great way to relieve stress is with exercise. Aaptiv has workouts that you can do anytime, anywhere, so theyre easy to fit into a busy schedule.
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How To Relieve Stress Without Overeating
When stress affects someone’s appetite and waistline, the individual can forestall further weight gain by ridding the refrigerator and cupboards of high-fat, sugary foods. Keeping those “comfort foods” handy is just inviting trouble.
Here are some other suggestions for countering stress:
Meditation. Countless studies show that meditation reduces stress, although much of the research has focused on high blood pressure and heart disease. Meditation may also help people become more mindful of food choices. With practice, a person may be able to pay better attention to the impulse to grab a fat- and sugar-loaded comfort food and inhibit the impulse.
Exercise. While cortisol levels vary depending on the intensity and duration of exercise, overall exercise can blunt some of the negative effects of stress. Some activities, such as yoga and tai chi, have elements of both exercise and meditation.
Social support. Friends, family, and other sources of social support seem to have a buffering effect on the stress that people experience. For example, research suggests that people working in stressful situations, like hospital emergency departments, have better mental health if they have adequate social support. But even people who live and work in situations where the stakes aren’t as high need help from time to time from friends and family.
Set Up Your Environment For Success
Put tempting foods behind closed cabinets or up high where you aren’t as likely to see them. In contrast, store healthy foods in see-through containers. It may sound silly, but research finds keeping healthier food in plain sight and less-healthy treats out of sight can help you choose healthier options more frequently. You might not be able to control the fact that you’re stressed, but you can create an environment where you’re less likely to turn to food.
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How Stress Affects The Body
Stress triggers a set of biological responses including:
- The release of stress hormones from your adrenal glands adrenaline and cortisol
- An increase in blood sugar
- Rising blood pressure
- Rapid heart beat
All these responses, known as fight or flight, are designed to help you meet physical challenges that threaten your survival when faced with stress . The trouble is, in todays high stress culture, the stress response continually remains on full alert and the body does not have a chance to recover.
Stick To A Regular Meal Schedule
Rather than eating at unplanned times or allowing your body to go for long periods of time without food, try adhering to a meal schedule. Thoughtfully space your meals out over the course of each day to keep your blood sugar stable and hunger levels at bay.
When you are satiated with nutritious foods, you are less likely to wind up craving sweets and succumbing to stress eating.
Maintain a normal eating schedule every day and consume healthy, filling foods to ensure your body gets both the calories and the nutrients it needs to feel content. These foods could include:
- Beans, lentils, and chickpeas
- Unsalted nuts
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How Diet Can Help
Eating a balanced and healthy diet is key to helping our bodies to manage the physiological changes caused by stress. An important part of any stress response includes identifying and reducing the causes of stress. Adrenal function is significantly influenced by blood sugar levels, therefore much of the dietary advice below aims to stabilise levels of sugar in the blood.
Choose whole, natural foods and ensure a minimum of five portions of non-starchy vegetables per day and eat a rainbow!
More on fruit & veg intake…
Try not to skip meals. Ensure that you eat regularly, taking healthy snacks as necessary. Small, regular meals will help to maintain energy levels and mood, while decreasing tiredness and irritability.
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Avoid highly refined foods such as white bread, pasta, chocolate, biscuits, sweets or foods with added sugars. Hidden sugars are also in many cereals, breads, tinned produce and processed or packaged foods. Replace processed foods with the unrefined foods such as brown bread, rice, oats and rye. Note that excess alcohol can also cause imbalanced blood sugar levels.
More on sugar…