How to stop stress eating?
In everyday life eating can sometimes become problematic, if the mind is undergoing stress. Stress can have multiple sources which includes family, work and social obligations. The two prominent signs of a disturbed mind are eating problems and sleep problems. Sleep problems can include sleep deprivation, wrong time sleeping, insomnia, sleep apnoea, narcolepsy etc. Eating problems can include bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, restrictive food intake disorder etc. Therefore, it is vital to address stress eating otherwise if left untreated, it can be fatal.
Stopping stressful eating
These are some of the steps that have the potential to stop stressful eating.
- Identify correctly the source of stress. It is necessary to understand the circumstances and emotions that is leading to stressful eating. Avoid the stressful circumstance altogether after recognizing it.
- It is crucial to do exercise to reduce stress. In case you are physically healthy yet facing some health problems, then it is advisable to consult a psychiatrist. There are chemical changes that inevitably occurs during stress. These can be reversed if one is doing enough exercises and taking prescribed psychiatric medicines. However, many people do not have adequate time for exercising due to a number of reasons. In such a situation, they should increase the amount of walking, cleaning, gardening and other less strenuous types of exercise and movement.
- Regular and fruitful communication with close friends and relatives can be refreshing for the stressed mind. In hard times, true friends can act like counsellors and can give fruitful advice which can resolve stress and stop stressful eating. There are some individuals who feel ashamed or unnecessarily express regret over their eating habits.
- Mindfulness can be practiced regularly to stop stress eating. All kinds of tai chi, yoga, meditation and other mental exercises can be done to relieve the mind from stress.
- Elyse Resch and dietician Evelyn Tribole have devised a way to promote ‘intuitive eating’. Way back in the 1990s, this form of eating helped in focused, calm and mindful eating. In mindful eating attention needs to paid as to what kind of foods are worsening stressful situations. Stress eating can be caused due to impaired links between the guts and brain.
- Natural eating without dietary restrictions can lead to stress relief. In natural eating, one can have chocolates, vegetables, meat, milk products without any guilt or shame.
Preventing or minimizing stress eating
- Overeating is the direct consequence of stressful eating. In case you are eating too much due to stress, then first find out the reasons behind it. It can be due to nourishment, periodic hunger or just the desire to try out food by tasting it. In such a scenario, always focus on how you are feeling while eating food. The negative experiences can range from loneliness, boredom, anxiety or stress. Try to think as to why are you are experiencing such symptoms. Seek professional help if these experiences continue to recur. Early treatment can be greatly helpful and may avert the onset of major eating disorders.
- Control your temptation. There are certain objects which can increase hunger and finally lead to binge eating. For instance, a bucket of ice cream, jar filled with sweets or cookies, chocolate boxes etc. can suddenly increase the temptation to eat unnecessarily. Thus, remove those stimulants and objects from your home. This will surely reduce cravings and other acts of stressful eating. Moreover, this will also be helpful for both your mental and physical health.
- Undereating or overeating are often caused due to faulty meal schedules. Therefore, prepare a proper meal schedule and keep enough gaps between meals. This improves better digestion. Always maintain this schedule and count your calories per meal. Both undereating or overeating can be prevented if you can have two solid meals in a day.
- Excessive restriction of diets can be counterproductive and it can lead to malnutrition. During stressful times, it is advisable that restrictive dieting should be avoided since it can worsen the situation. Overeating or consuming too few calories can lead to stress. This is why restriction of diets should be avoided.
- In case you find it stressful to eat other people’s cooked foods, then you can try cooking at home yourself. Cooking itself can be stress relieving. It can improve overall health parameters. Always try to avoid or minimize red meat intake. Increase your consumption of vegetables and fruits as these can be both delicious and nutritious.
- Hydration levels can impact stress eating. Therefore, always maintain proper hydration to avoid stress. Research has found out that risks can be minimized if hydration is proper. Dehydration can be cured by drinking the right amount of water. Fruits can also resolve hydration problems by adding sugar and salt.
- Daily physical activity can minimize stressful eating. This often happens when one is stuck at home (due to Covid) and can lead to stress, increased snacking frequency and boredom. Thus, on YouTube you can watch and follow exercise videos and do those in homes.
- Boredom can often cause stress eating. When people are bored, they often resort to eating excessively at irregular intervals. Prolonging such behaviour can lead to lifestyle diseases like diabetes, cancer, obesity. Thus, it is vital to utilize time optimally by concentrating on hobbies that are put off due to busy schedules. You can come out of stressful eating by learning a new skill or managing a project. Living spaces can be organised to make oneself less stressful.
- Stress eating can worsen if one is resorting to alcohol consumption. Alcohol consumption is injurious to health as it increases the probability of overeating and can lead to addiction. Thus, avoiding excessive alcohol can be helpful because it helps in relaxing the mind and does not alter brain chemicals that leads to stress.
- The most glaring sign of stress eating is eating between meals. However, this too can be altered by eating healthy food instead of unhealthy food. Moreover, such focuses can bring positive changes in one’s mind.
These are the best ways to stop stress eating and lead a healthy lifestyle.