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Do you find yourself raiding your refrigerator for food whenever there’s a little discomfort in your life? Dealing with troubles is common, but finding comfort in food is not! If you’ve been in situations where you’ve devoured a whole pizza by yourself right before an interview or a tub of ice cream just because your boyfriend dozed off without that ‘good night’ text, you may need help! There’s a term for this condition known as emotional eating or stress eating.
People who indulge in emotional eating, soothe their emotionally-wrecked situation with food. This frequent habit of eating to suppress sorrow can cause negative effects on happiness, health, and even weight.
Deekshaa Athwani, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, Mumbai spoke to HealthShots to elaborate on the subject of stress eating.
“Food can be soothing. Hence, individuals finding comfort in food is common. It is a practice usually referred to as ‘emotional eating’. You may use food as a reward or eat when you are bored, sad, stressed or even lonely. Eating emotionally means that you eat for reasons other than hunger and you may not listen to your body’s natural hunger and fullness signals”, says Athwani.
While this problem is more common than we know. A lot of people around us are suffering from stress eating but don’t know about it yet. There are certain triggers that can cultivate the immediate urge of turning to food. According to Athwani, these triggers can be both physical and psychological.
Some people associate their own habits with emotional eating. A certain habit like eating a chocolate bar everyday on your way back home or eating candy floss whenever you see a child eating one can also trigger stress eating.
The pressure of living a fulfilling life has consumed us more than ever now. All thanks to the fast-paced and perfect social media streams! People tend to feel bored most of the time and turn to food to fill that void.
People fall under the trap of peer pressure when it comes to making food choices. A friend recommending buying a pizza before that football game or getting drinks with food every time you order are some of the instances that can lead to stress eating.
At times, feeling less inspired to do a chore can make a person kill time by munching on food instead. A person tends to eat mindlessly until his/her reward system steeps and he finds the task worth doing.
There are many misconceptions about the issue. A lot of people mistakenly believe that emotional eating is not a psychological issue, but a reason to overeat. But physical and emotional hunger is absolutely different.
People turn to food, especially, to suppress negative emotions due to many reasons. Negative emotions that one goes through may lead to a feeling of emptiness. The person indulging in stress eating looks at food as a way to fill that void and feel better about the temporary wholeness or feeling of fullness it gives.
Stress eating diminishes our judgement for the nutritional value of food. With no portion control, overeating is inevitable. These factors combine to make the person gain weight and get out of shape. This drastic change in the way one’s body changes can also be responsible for that guilty and unhappy feeling.
It is essential to recognize the triggers that cause the urge of eating for you. These factors may be physical and emotional. Maintaining a mood book can be of help by telling you how your mood has changed all day and what caused you to pick up that bag of chips.