BY Modupeoluwa Adekanye
Stress is a common trigger for emotional eaters because so many everyday life circumstances cause the stress and anxiety that leads to overeating.
Some stressors come from within, like the stress you put on yourself to be perfect or the anxiety you feel when you want to do some important things for yourself.
Other stressors come from outside of yourself, such as the demands of your job, medical issues, family obligations, and social pressure from friends.
However, people cope differently with stress, while some take to shopping, others over-eat and do what is called stress-eating.
Stress-eating can, however, be controlled and some steps can be taken to reduce this problem.
Identify your stressor
The first way to solve a problem is by identifying what the problem is. Identify the circumstances and emotions that lead you to stress-eat. These are your emotional eating triggers, and once you recognize them, you can take steps to avoid them or at least be prepared for them.
Keep a food diary
It might sound odd, but this is the first step to combat stress eating. So, keep a diary and make note of what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, what kind of emotions do you have while eating, and how hungry you are. This might be helpful in revealing certain patterns and help you take action. You can show your doctor the diary so as to help you measure and screen what you should or should not eat.
Often, exercise helps you reduce stress. If you are physically fit, you’re more resistant to the effects of stress according to Psycom. Exercise causes chemical changes in the brain that reduce stress but, unfortunately, stress itself can prevent some people from taking steps, like exercising, that could make a difference in their mental and physical health.
If your personal circumstances make it difficult for you to get to the gym or even do formal exercises at home, try to increase the amount of walking, gardening, cleaning, and other lighter forms of movement and exercise you normally do from day to day. Also, you can keep your stress in check by practising yoga, meditation, or deep breathing. Meditation, yoga, tai chi, and other mindfulness-based exercises and programs help calm the mind and the body. When you are mindful, calm, and focused, you are better able to make smarter and healthier lifestyle choices.
Avoid Junk Foods
If you think it becomes easier for you to eat junk food when you are filled with emotions, then why not remove all of that food? You can always go back to grocery shopping when your emotions are in check. Some people shop when they are emotionally down, some take to alcohol, but yours is eating; to avoid eating junk excessively, it is important to do away with them.
It is possible that you eat unhealthy because of boredom, so there is a need to address the root cause of the problem. Engage in other things that can take your mind off food such as reading, music, or hanging out. When boredom strikes, instead of eating, try these things and see how it works.
Discuss your feelings and your unhealthy responses to stress with close friends and family who can give you the support you need to get through this situation. If you often feel guilt, shame, or regret over your eating habits, you may want to speak with a professional counselor. There is nothing too much for you to discuss with your counsellor, they will hold your hands and help you through the situation.
Always feel free to discuss your troubles with people close to you. A problem shared is half-solved.