Stress eating is real – Here’s how you can retrain your brain to break free of these behaviours
Unpleasant stress-coping behaviours can take all forms and impact even the most resistant people. In most situations, negative emotions and stress accumulated over time as you go through challenging situations can ultimately trigger various digestive problems. Different stressors significantly impact the digestive system, which explains why people are prone to sticking with various stress-coping techniques like impulsive and disordered eating.
If you’re struggling with urges to consume foods, a habit of snacking mindlessly, or difficulty stopping cravings, know you’re not alone. 38% of adults cited stress as a factor in eating unhealthy foods or overeating, experiencing changes in their eating habits, and seeing the effects impact different areas of their lives. Numerous scientific studies demonstrate the strong connection between emotions and eating patterns, showing a lot of truth behind the expression “stress eating.”
While awareness of the phenomenon is spreading, what are the effective ways to break the cycle and improve their dietary habits? In this regard, scientific research also helps us find ways to combat and overcome negative stress-induced eating behaviours. Read more to discover the most effective ways to end emotional and stress eating and ensure you’re not slipping back into old, bad habits.
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Achieve focus in chaos
Chaotic and disorganized lifestyles often intertwine with unhealthy stress-coping eating habits. Suppose you find yourself in a crowded room, feeling an immediate impulse to pause your activities or declutter the space upon entering. In that case, you will likely recognize the link between disorders and stress. Although science doesn’t tell which factor triggers the other – whether a messy environment leads to anxiety or stress leads to neglecting household chores – one certainty remains. The organization of your space, the furniture within it, and their harmonious interaction can significantly influence your stress management approach.
If you’re planning on a redecoration model or simply looking to replace some items, then you are lucky because you get the chance to improve your home’s appearance and practicality to benefit your overall well-being and mental health. Adopting healthier dietary behaviours may start with a mindset change, yet practically, the journey is initiated in the kitchen.
So, when the time for the eagerly-awaited kitchen remodel comes, prioritize the atmosphere and functionality you want from your cooking space. It’s the heart of your home and likely a social space where you gather with friends and family, so you’ll want to pay great attention to the items you welcome. In this regard, opting for providers that specialize in creating kitchen cabinetry will help you eliminate the risks associated with furniture shopping. By choosing companies that supply only kitchens, you make sure you receive a high-quality and durable product that resists the typical factors that damage cabinetry, such as humidity and spills.
Chaos, whether found within your routine or in your surroundings, plays an instrumental role in fostering unhealthy eating habits. Yet, as soon as you become aware of this culprit, you take a step towards transformative change.
Find your triggers
Although it may be easier said than done, identifying the sources of your stress is an essential step, without which winning the battle with stress-induced eating is barely possible. Pinpointing the precise emotions, behaviours, or situations driving your eating habits may be challenging or tricky at best. However, the following factors are often responsible for emotional or stress-induced eating. Identifying and addressing these triggers can significantly aid in curbing such habits:
- Feelings of emptiness or boredom: These two factors are among the most common culprits behind stress eating because a lack of occupation or personal fulfilment may often make you turn your focus to physical activity. Snacking helps you occupy your mind and time, distracting you from any unpleasantness in your life, but it is not a long-term solution.
- Childhood habits: Patterns created in the developmental stages of our lives tend to be carried well into adulthood, including those related to dietary habits. For instance, you may have been given chocolate as a reward for accomplishing a task. In this case, you’re possibly correlating achievements, whether minor or significant, with the act of indulging in eating. As a result, these actions are likely to linger and impact your relationship with food.
- Stuffing emotions: Eating or overeating is often a mechanism to deny, stop, or “stuff down” negative and uncomfortable feelings, such as disappointment, loneliness, or even fear. Anaesthetizing with food may work for the moment, but it won’t solve the root of your emotional distress and discomfort.
Choose stress-reducing foods
There’s an endless pool of tips and tricks on how to lower stress, ranging from ways to reduce your cortisol levels to stress-relieving activities you can engage in outdoors. While everything that suits your preference, lifestyle, and schedule is welcome in your fight with stress-eating habits, the food you consume can also have a say. There are plenty of foods scientifically proven to minimize stress levels through the number of vitamins, antioxidants, fatty acids, and other vital elements contained. Look for foods rich in thiamin, niacin, biotin, folate, and the complex of B vitamins, among others. These are found to help you manage energy levels better, cope with stress, and improve your overall well-being.
Chicken, beef, salmon, and turkey are high-protein foods you should take advantage of in your diet and make great meals accompanied by legumes.
Don’t neglect your dietary restrictions, but take some time to see how you can create a balanced eating plan that will improve your health and, ultimately, your mood.
Breaking the bonds with eating without needing to can necessitate effort, but it will be gratifying when the detrimental habit is gone. There are numerous alternatives to this detrimental habit you can use, such as reading books, taking baths, or going for a walk.
Take easy steps, and if the situation spirals out of your control, remember you can rely on friends’ and family’s support or reach out to a specialist for help.