Stress eating. How to stop emotional eating?

Under stress, men often drink to forget their problems, and about a third of all women are prone to the emotional eating (sometimes called “stress eating”). During a stress or emotional upset their appetite increases greatly. Often this increased appetite is followed by extreme thirst, drowsiness and desire to slip between the sheets as soon as possible.

There are two main types of response to a stress. The situation above – is a classic passive response to a stress. These people do not try to do something to solve existing problems. On the contrary, they refuse to take any step. But the anxiety stays or even increases, so it needs to be somehow helped. They prefer to distract and achieve some illusory stability with a help of alcohol, food (“stress eating”), sex or smoking. It’s a kind of separation from stress, using switching to a different type of activity.

On the other hand, there are people who can not eat at all in stressful situations. That is why sometimes right before exams some students can not eat even a piece of bread. In such cases, the refusal to eat is often combined with nausea and, sometimes, with the alcohol abuse. In addition, the insomnia appears, a libido sharply decreases and a storm of other negative emotional reactions occur. This may be hostility, irritability, aggression, anxiety, feelings of panic and confusion. These people tend to be hyperactive. They perform too many actions and, being restless, just can not sit still, running around in circles.

In second type of response to a stress a person is trying to deal with the situation. Another question is whether these attempts are successful or not. A body may be saying “there is no time for a meal now, nor is a time for a sleep. It’s time to do something, to move and seek the way out of problem.”

In fairness it must be noted, that this type of the “active” people prevails. But there are those, who passively respond to a stress by emotional eating (“stress eating”). Usually they are overweight women. Besides, for the “anti-stress” treatment they choose cakes, candies, pies, biscuits and other sweets, which is definitely not considered a healthy food.

The habit of emotional eating (“stress eating”) may have several causes:

There is a special category of people that suffer from a dysfunction in certain brain regions. This may lead to the situation, when people can not control appetite. A person may be not hungry, but still wants to eat. An extreme case – is a constant desire to eat something.

Secondly, it may be a lifestyle adopted in the families of obese people. Usually, they have a special attitude to food. They love to eat. The entertaining is usually accompanied by the spacious tables with a plenty of food. The most popular are fatty types of food, meat, and sweet dishes. Food is never thrown away, and all that have been prepared, have to be eaten. The main rule is: ways leave a clean plate.

So a child literally from birth adopts a special attitude towards food. If a baby cries – it means he/she is hungry. Thus, a food for this child is associated with something good. Then the reflex of eating gradually develops – when everything is bad, you have to eat, and preferably something sweet and delicious. Food serves as a remedy for a stress.

The habit of emotional eating (“stress eating”) can be dealt with. We must learn to protect ourselves from stress in some other ways. It is difficult, but it can be done: If you want something to eat, think first: why am I doing this? Stop and try to reduce the stress in some other way. Take a shower, go for a walk or talk to someone. If you know that you are prone to emotional eating, never keep food at hand. When people are under severe stress, they try to swallow as much as they can. So always eat slowly, chewing food thoroughly. If you can not cope with the “stress eating”, it may be a good idea to seek for the help.

Image by Jackie Baisa (CC BY 2.0)