Be it because of our current situation or just an everyday problem. Many of us have experienced and struggled with stress eating.
But when it comes down to it, what is stress eating? How can it be avoided?
And what are the deeper implications of it?
First, what is stress eating as the name implies, it refers to eating when you’re not hungry; it can also be called emotional eating because what you eat is dictated by your emotions.
This can affect your weight; however, it can also harm your overall wellbeing.
When food is connected to emotions, emotions are also linked to what you eat and it can become a vicious cycle where, for example; you eat because you’re depressed and you’re depressed because of what you eat. There’s evidence that certain foods could change your brain patterns and make you feel varied and sometimes distressing emotions, bread for instance could be linked with feelings of depression. You’re what you eat never rang truer, so how to improve yourself if what you eat is so linked to how you feel, and how you feel is depending on what you eat and separating them is so difficult. I believe some answers might lie in our infancy.
Babysitting my two-year-old nephew and newborn niece, I’ve noticed food can become a crutch for dealing with emotional distress early on. You can only do so much to calm down a baby, and the most used method is to give him or her their bottle, I think many times we do it even when the baby is not hungry, and
this has serious consequences on our adult life (as most things in early life).
When we are born we don’t have too much emotional turmoil, we cry because we’re hungry or are in physical pain but could it be possible that our problematic relationship with food starts here? Perhaps we are conditioned to relate food with comfort and appeasement. Of course, this will vary according to the parenting and geographic locations, Latin American moms, for example are known for linking food with love.
But this of course is only a theory and even if it would be so, what can be done?
This is a question I struggle to answer as I battle stress eating regularly. I’ve come to think of it as a truly serious problem that, in my experience, hinders much more than my weight.
When looking for advice, the recommendation is to relieve stress by exercising or meditating, which I bet works for many and it might work for me too. But I strongly believe that until we’re able to separate conditioned emotions of happiness with unnecessary often high calorie and sugary food and match our diets to what our body needs and not this false sense of joy. We can’t truly overcome this crutch and have fuller, healthier in every way, lives. Keeping healthy habits and keeping in shape is, after all, more mental than physical work.