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You may ask, is that a thing? Stress eating is a habit that more than twenty five percent of Americans have reported having issues with. It is an action or habit of eating or overeating as a means of relieving stress or anxiety, rather than from hunger. It is more common in women than in men, however, it is possible for both. Men tend to rely on alcohol or substances when they have unmanaged stress. People who suffer with eating to manage stress are more likely to develop weight gain or obesity, according to many health studies. Stress eating creates a cycle within our bodies that can be hard to interrupt, once starting. Have you asked yourself “Do I stress eat?”

Choosing to eat a large of amount of food at one sitting increases our bodies insulin. Increased insulin levels in our bodies over time causes weight gain. Prolonged levels of increased insulin slows and disrupts other body systems, which can cause our body systems to have issues in working properly. This can trigger chain reactions throughout us that lead to multiple symptoms and sicknesses. You may wonder if you sometimes stress eat, or do you just enjoy food? Below are some signs that you could suffer from eating because you are stressed.

How Do I Know If I Stress Eat

  • Eating in response to a situation or mood
  • Eating when certain feelings arise
  • Craving a specific food group
  • Eating at times other than meals
  • Sneaking food away from others
  • Hiding empty containers

Healthy hunger builds gradually, as more time spans between meals. Stress eating comes on quick and is usually attached to a circumstance that triggered your mood to change, something someone said or did or an emotional change within you. Learning the difference between eating at planned meal times verses eating in response to something, can be helpful in taking steps to overcome stress eating.

What Are Healthier Options?

Choosing an action other than stress eating can not only be healthier, but rewarding. You may feel a sense of accomplishment when changing your habits. Below we will discuss ways to overcome emotional eating. Replacing eating with one of the suggestions below for 15 minutes can be long enough to overcome the habit of eating to cope with stress, triggers or anxiety. Try starting with a few minutes of deep breathing then one of the following.

  • Exercise, dance or take a walk
  • Read a good book
  • Color, paint or draw
  • Meditate
  • Try a crossword or activity book
  • Call or Facetime a friend

Habits can be hard to break, but by being intentional and choosing an option besides food, overtime, you can make a difference in how you handle the situations that make you want to stress eat. Remembering that eating is for our health and to nourish our body, not a reward or response to a feeling, can help change your mindset and how you think about food.

What If I Don’t Know Why I Eat?

Managing stress, depression or anxiety can be hard alone. Upstate Restorative Counseling is here to help you establish a plan for small steps forward.