Feeling low? Have a chocolate. Had a bad day? Pizza is the answer. Bad breakup? Ice cream will definitely make you feel better. Haven’t we all heard that good food is the solution to all your problems? But what exactly is “good food?” It’s a common belief that satisfied taste buds will certainly result in a happier mind and will release all the stress you’ve got. But my question is how long before you realize that this notion has led to you eating unhealthy stuff, even when you aren’t hungry, just to combat stress. Stress eating is real and it’s high time the world started taking the problem seriously.
According to a study published by the American Psychology Association, nearly 34 percent of the adult population has developed a habit of eating unhealthy foods because of stress which has lead to a steep hike in the number of obese and overweight adults and invariably increasing their risk of problems like Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
WHAT IS STRESS EATING?
Stress or emotional eating involves consuming large amounts of unhealthy food (mainly having high calorie content and very little nutritional value) in order to deal with or ease the feeling of being stressed. It is different from binge eating disorder in the sense that the latter mainly means having recurring episodes entailing of uncontrollable urges to eat something. The major difference between the two is a sense of control and the quantity of food consumed. While stress eating can become a habit, binge eating is a proper disorder. Nevertheless, neither is good for you and your body.
• There are no fixed symptoms as such for stress eating, but if you find yourself gorging on something that you’re well aware of being unhealthy and you’re doing it because you’re feeling low, thinking it’ll make you feel better, that right there if starts happening regularly, is a major sign that you are developing a habit of stress or emotional eating.
• Also, you’ll crave more for junk food rather than healthy food in order to satiate such cravings.
• Every time you eat something unhealthy, ask yourself, was it preceded by a feeling of being stressed or low or unhappy? If the answer is yes and it’s a reoccurring in nature, chances are that you’re either developing or have already developed this habit.
WHY IS STRESS EATING BAD FOR YOU?
We’re all quite familiar with the saying, “Excess of everything is bad.” A truer statement couldn’t have been presented in case of stress eating. Excessive consumption of junk food leads to large intake of calories, leading to weight gain, diet problems, and ultimately to health problems like heart disease and diabetes. It might also lead to food addiction.
HOW TO TACKLE THIS PROBLEM?
Do all the below mentioned one day at a time to deal with emotional eating. Make a plan. Execute it and see the change.
• Eat healthy. Instead of eating large quantities of unhealthy food all at once, eat small portions of healthy food that tastes good at shorter intervals throughout the day. Practice mindful eating.
• The main idea is to have a healthy life and reduce stress. Identify the triggers and work on them. Find constructive ways to handle stress and emotions. Get proper sleep. Exercise daily. Increase your water intake.
• The strategy to control stress eating is to eat foods that help in satiating hunger while providing adequate nutrition.
• The best way to control hunger is to eat enough protein and fibre in every meal. Protein and fibre both have a far larger satiating effect than carbohydrates or fats.
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