What is stress eating?
Stress eating which is also known as emotional eating happens to be the behavior of satisfying a requirement in your life by making use of food items. This requirement can be an emotional one instead of trying to satisfying the appetite or fulfilling the nutritional needs whatsoever. There can be different reasons for stress eating including any detachment from our loved ones or any stressful situation in our workplace or residence.
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Consuming emotionally in limited quantities, for example, eating a cupcake for celebrating your birthday will not pose any problem at all. However, when the food turns into a primary mechanism for coping with emotion it can affect our health negatively. It may be quite difficult to overcome this habit which we may develop over time. In the subsequent paragraphs, we will discuss the most significant causes that can result in stress eating.
Stress eating causes:
- Lack of awareness
One primary reason for emotional eating is the fact that individuals are not aware of what they’re actually ingesting. This is known as “unconscious eating” and this particular phenomenon is observed once somebody goes on picking at his meal even after he has finished consuming everything. This can be manifested while consuming peanuts, popcorn, or crackers – any foodstuff that you will get in front of you simply because it is there.
- Body dysmorphia
Another significant reason for stress eating happens to be disliking or hating your own body. Although any disliking regarding your appearance or image might not lead to any long-term shame, they can definitely result in emotional eating. According to many individuals, they will stop hating their own bodies after reaching their target weight. However, it will be advisable for you to stop disliking your own body and also end the stress eating cycle once and for all.
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- Feelings that are not possible to handle
In the US, individuals have been instructed to stay away from negative feelings and anything that might make them feel bad. On many occasions, people make use of food items for handling these types of negative sensations as well as experiences in their lives. They try to conceal the negative things in their lives simply by consuming their favorite items.
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- Physiology of your body
In case you allow yourself to become excessively hungry or fatigued, you can easily indulge in stress eating in the long run. It is your brain which will send signals to your system for consuming while you are hungry, and you are likewise not emotionally equipped to cope with urges or cravings. For this, it is imperative to have proper sleep at night and also eat consistently all through the day. It is imperative to take proper care of yourself which will help you to end this detrimental habit of emotional eating.
Thus it is evident from the discussion that there can be many reasons for indulging in stress eating. However, it is important for us to comprehend the primary cause behind this habit and try to get rid of it once and for all. Below, we have thrown some light on the warning signs of stress eating.
Warning signs of emotional eating:
A tendency to feel hungry all of a sudden is definitely a symptom of emotional eating. It is a fact that stress eaters are inclined to crave processed and junk food items instead of going for balanced meals, and their cravings are typically preceded by anxiety or any uncomfortable emotion such as anger, sadness, frustration, or boredom. Amongst any other significant indication of stress eating, lack of control while consuming is something that deserves special mention.
Emotional eating versus binge eating:
The main difference between stress eating and binge eating is going to involve the quantity of food consumed. It is a fact that emotional eating might involve consuming food items in moderate to large quantities, and it might be the only sign that the person has any emotional sickness like binge eating disorder, bulimia, or depression. On the other hand, binge eating is actually a type of mental illness which is usually categorized by multiple episodes of compulsive overeating. In this case, the affected person will ingest a quantity of food without any control which can be much larger than what individuals consume normally in a particular period of time even while they are not hungry. People with binge eating problems might consume at a much faster rate than usual and might feel ashamed of their eating eventually. However, it is imperative that the binges have to take place at least once every week over a period of three months so as to qualify for this diagnosis.
What types of specialists are responsible for treating stress eating?
Stress eating can be easily evaluated by several types of healthcare experts and they might likewise assist you with proper reduction of your weight in case you happen to be obese or are suffering from weight problems. This particular symptom might arise at any stage during your lifecycle, and therefore, it is possible for any type of physician including family physicians, pediatricians, and other primary care health expert to address this issue effectively. Nurses, as well as physician assistants, might also be involved in taking care of sufferers who are struggling with stress eating. On some occasions, psychiatrists, social workers, clinical psychologists, as well as licensed counselors are also involved in diagnosing and treating this problem. Although any one of these professionals will be able to identify the problem, it will be advisable for several of them to work in cohesion to assist the individual to get rid of this issue once and for all.
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How it is possible for healthcare experts to diagnose stress eating?
The healthcare professionals out there will be able to diagnose emotional eating by first making sure that the concerned individual has undergone a physical examination which has proved that the symptom is not a part of any medical condition or it is not genetic either. In this case, the physician might inquire several questions to the patient which will help him to evaluate whether emotional eating this present at all or not. He will conduct a comprehensive exploration of the medical history of the person so that it is possible to distinguish stress eating from any other eating disorder such as binge eating, bulimia, or pica. It is likewise possible for any mental health expert to understand whether any other type of mental illness is present or not.
Effective treatment for stress eating:
It is important to educate the sufferer regarding healthier ways of selecting food items and also developing better eating habits. They should be able to identify the triggers and develop proper solutions for preventing and getting rid of anxiety and stress.
It will be easy to manage stress by means of exercise given that regular physical activity will help to reduce the production of any stress chemical which might have otherwise resulted in anxiety, depressive disorders, not to mention insomnia as well. All these will help to decrease the urge to engage in stress eating.
Other effective techniques to get rid of this problem would be to engage in meditation as well as other types of relaxation techniques. Consequently, make it a point to engage in at least a couple of meditation sessions on a regular basis which will have a beneficial effect on your health while reducing your BP levels plus heartbeat as well.
Staying away from drug abuse and consuming limited amounts of alcoholic beverages are other essential solutions of managing stress eating. The reason for this is that this types of addictive substances help to increase our body’s response to anxiety and stress. Moreover, excessive drinking and drug abuse can prevent the individual from fixing the issues directly given that they will not be able to develop any effective method of dealing with or getting rid of stress.
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Amongst other significant lifestyle modifications, mention may be made of taking breaks from your regular work schedule either at your workplace or at your residence. Do not try to overstrain yourself while working. Learn how to identify your stress triggers and also respond to them. Your lifestyle should be structured in such a manner that you are able to achieve a comfy way of responding to your stress triggers.
Otherwise, stress-management counseling can also prove to be effective for those people who already require assistance to avoid stress in their daily lives. Group therapy, as well as stress counseling, will do a world of good for reducing stress symptoms and also enhancing their overall health.
CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is often found to be extremely effective when it comes to treating emotional eating. This particular approach will help to get rid of anxiety and stress by assisting the individual to modify the way he or she thinks regarding some particular problems. The therapist in this case will be using as many as 3 techniques for accomplishing these targets:
- Didactic component: This particular phase will assist in establishing positive expectations regarding therapy and also promoting the cooperation of the patient with the treatment procedure.
- Cognitive component: This phase will assist in identifying the assumptions and thoughts that might affect the behavior of the individual, especially those which might compel the person to stress eating. As a variation of this type of therapy, teaching mindfulness will also be an effective technique. Mindfulness will help to enhance the emotional awareness of the person by letting him think more reflectively and it will result in an enhanced ability to isolate the emotion of the patient from hunger.
- Behavioral component: This particular technique will help to teach the individual how to refrain from stress eating and make use of more effective techniques for coping with the problem. It will also assist in setting up positive expectations for the treatment while promoting the individual’s cooperation with the treatment procedure as well.
What can be the consequences of stress eating?
Emotional eating can result in complications if it is not treated on time. These complications will consist of difficulties in reducing weight plus obesity, and also developing addiction to food as well. On the contrary, individuals who are prone to stress eating are usually more responsive to the reduction of stress so as to correct their propensity of emotional eating unlike those who are inclined to consume less once they’re facing any stressful situation.
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Would it be feasible to avoid emotional eating?
One can easily refrain from stress eating by minimizing stress and also by utilizing food as a source of nutrition instead of a method for fixing any problem. It is also been revealed by studies that individuals can likewise prevent stress eating by thinking regarding the future instead of remaining focused on fulfilling his food cravings. Other successful methods of preventing stress eating will be performing workouts, engaging in meditation, as well as other techniques like staying away from alcoholic beverages, drugs, not to mention caffeine as well.
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In the subsequent paragraphs, we are going to highlight some stress eating facts.
Stress eating facts:
- Stress eating involves responding to emotional feelings like stress by consuming high-calorie, high carbohydrate food items without much nutritional value whatsoever.
- The amount of food consumed happens to be the main difference between binge eating and emotional eating.
- Similar to the majority of the emotional symptoms out there, stress eating is believed to be caused by several different factors instead of only a single cause.
- A number of potential warning symptoms will be present for emotional eating.
- It will be possible to evaluate emotional eating simply by screening for mental and physical health problems.
- It will be possible for the sufferers to get rid of emotional eating by learning about healthier methods of selecting food items and developing better consuming habits as well. They should also be capable of recognizing their triggers that are responsible for this particular behavior and also developing appropriate solutions for preventing and getting rid of stress.
- If left untreated, stress eating can lead to weight reduction problems, obesity, as well as addiction to food.
- One can refrain from emotional eating by minimizing stress and this will be possible by using food items as sustenance instead of using them to fix our problems.