Life Care Center of Altamonte Springs
Life Care Center of Altamonte Springs

Tackling stress eating at home


06/3/2020
Piper Kyle

With the temporary norm in our society, home has become our office, school and personal restaurants with 24/7 access. Even though this is for safety precautions, you can still harm yourself with stress eating. There is a significant amount of science linking between stress and obesity. According to Global Emotions Report from Gallop, stress levels are expressively higher for Americans than the global average, and obesity rates are higher too, being more than 40% of the U.S. population.

What is stress eating?

Stress/emotional eating is the act of eating food in response to feelings or anxiety, rather than from hunger. When you feel tense or anxious, stress eating seems to be triggered like an automatic response; especially if your body reacts powerfully to stress-released hormones. In 2010, a study from the University of Michigan showed that when levels of the stress hormone cortisol were boosted in healthy, non-stressed adults, they ate more snack/junk foods. When you eat more sugary and fatty foods, you are likely to decrease your appetite for regular size meals and vegetables because the sugar takes the place of the satisfaction of a full meal, and this causes weight gain.

What are some of the causes of stress eating?

  • Boredom: With being home more during the pandemic or just being trapped at home during a rainy day, we sometimes have nothing to do to occupy our time. This can leave us finding something to pass the time, and we can be enticed to snack, even though we may not be hungry, just bored.
  • Influences: Food is an easy way to tempt others or be tempted by them. Maybe your coworkers order fast food for the office or someone brings donuts every morning for breakfast. The temptation is real and sometimes hard to steer away from, especially when it’s quick and easy to eat.
  • Social interactions: Too much or little social interaction can influence our cravings. After a fight with your spouse or roommate, you may feel the need to eat copious amounts of sugar. Or the feeling of being lonely sets in, and that big chocolate chip cookie feels like a big hug after a long, stressful day at work.

How can we stop stress eating?

A major strategy in saying “I’m done with stress eating,” is slowing down and analyzing where the craving is being triggered from. Then you can make steady changes. Move your comfort foods to the back of the pantry where they aren’t the first thing you see when grabbing a snack. Put the heathier options in the front where they catch your eye. In the end, this may result in keeping junk food out of the house the more you push it away. Stay on target with three square meal daily to eliminate overeating at other times in the day.

When it comes to any habit, it’s hard to quit cold turkey. Sometimes when we quit something, another habit takes its place. Here are ways to find something else that is more productive and keeps the bad food out.

  • Going for a walk
  • Reading a book
  • Drinking a warm cup of tea
  • Journaling
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Playing with your pets
  • Drawing or painting
  • A good sleep schedule
  • Drinking water
  • Practicing relaxing techniques such as stretching, yoga or taking a bath

In the end, food is food; it’s not your best friend or your worst enemy. Food is not going to solve all your problems, and eventually, you realize that it won’t. Maintaining healthy food habits will help you be more productive and genuinely feel better physically. Listen to your body and honor what it needs and when it needs it. You only get one body, so be in control of it by cutting out stress eating.

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Life Care Center of Altamonte Springs


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989 Orienta Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32701

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