Why do we stress eat?

Human beings are motivated by two things: Pain and pleasure. In order to change behaviours, we must first understand them. Let’s take a closer look at how food and stress are intricately related.

Eating food is linked to pleasure centres within your brain. When you eat, these centres light up and release chemical reactions to make you feel GOOD. Research has proven this is even more common for high sugar and high fat foods.

What does this mean? Given that pain is not a fun emotion to sit in, human will try to escape their suffering. And what is one of the ways do they often do it? By eating food. This can quickly become a learned response and coping mechanism.

3 practical steps for overcoming stress eating:

1.     Become aware of it: Eating normally usually resembles something like three main meals per day and a couple of nutritious snacks in between. Choices should typically come from a variety of food groups.

Some signs you could be stress eating could be; frequently overeating passed feeling full, increased frequency of meals or snacks (or both), eating during intense emotion, cravings unrelated to hunger or bingeing on high sugar, high fat or high carb foods.

2.     Identify how you are currently managing your stress

A question we frequently ask our clients is “how are you managing your stress?” If the answer is “I don’t know” or “I’m not” then it could be that this is part of your stress eating problem.

Take a moment to really reflect on that question now.

3.     Learn to manage your stress – WITHOUT FOOD

Replacing food as your solution to stress management can be a very healthy new behaviour to instigate.

There are many options here: Exercising, self care like a massage, journaling, talking to someone honestly about what you are going through, going to yoga, meditating or breathing, reading or watching a funny movie. There is much to experiment with.

You will also have to be patient with yourself and take time and support. This may include interaction with an Accredited Practising Dietitian and or/a psychologist if necessary.

Please remember, you are never alone and it is possible to overcome stress eating for good.

Stay safe everyone,

Ash xx