In today’s society, it is acceptable to reward yourself for a hard day or take out your stress by overindulging in food. What are you expected to do after a bad breakup? Wallow in ice cream and other junk food. Just think about the term “comfort food”. This type of food is generally unhealthy, but it is meant to make us feel better when we are upset. While there is nothing wrong with indulging in foods that you love every once in a while, linking food – especially unhealthy food – to times of stress can be a bad pattern. There are healthier ways to deal with issues than turning to foods that will harm your body in the long run. In this article, I will talk about stress eating and how to reduce it to make sure that you are leading a healthy lifestyle.
Emotional eating or stress eating happens when a person uses food as stress relief or a form of comfort. This kind of eating uses junk food as a reward instead of eating because you are hungry. An emotional eater will use food to fill an emotional void in their life to feel better. Everyone uses food as a reward or a coping mechanism at some point. But, when this becomes a regular occurrence, it might be time to make a change.
If you think that you have a problem with stress or emotional eating, you should identify your triggers and find something else to replace them.
A few common triggers for emotional eating are:
Stress. This is one of the most obvious reasons for stress eating. Stress hormones can make us crave foods that will give us energy. Oftentimes, this is sugary or fatty foods.
Boredom. This is a big trigger for a lot of people. When you are not engaged in something, you might find the need to do something else. This can lead to snacking. Think about watching a movie. Do you feel the need to have popcorn or another snack available? This is an example of mindless eating because you have nothing else to do.
Childhood habits. Many of our food habits were formed as children. If your parents rewarded you for doing a good job with junk food you might do the same as an adult. You also might crave foods that are unhealthy for you because you ate them when you were a kid. Popsicles, burgers, homemade cookies, and more might remind you of your childhood. This is one reason why people reach for unhealthy foods, even when they aren’t hungry.
Once you realize that you are an emotional eater and you want to break this behavior, you need to find something to replace your triggers. Instead of reaching for that tub of ice cream, you can:
Write out your feelings. Journaling can be a great way to relieve stress, get to the root of things that are bothering you, and help you practice gratitude.
Talk to a friend. You can also try to work through issues of stress, loneliness, or depression by confiding in a close friend or family member.
De-stress with healthy treats. A cup of tea can be very calming. It is a good alternative to eating junk food. If you enjoy cooking, making a healthy meal can be very rewarding.
Exercise. Exercise can reduce your stress levels and help you to feel better about yourself.
You can break the pattern of stress or emotional eating with these tips. To begin a workout schedule to replace junk food in your life, contact us today.