cstnprapp12.centerstone.lan
Home / Health & Wellness Articles / Stress / Stress Eating: Food and your Mood

Stress Eating: Food and your Mood

Have you ever had a really dreadful day, and then began stress eating a big bowl of Brussels sprouts? No?

Our emotions have a huge impact on our food choices – choices that often do not include healthy foods, like vegetables, but comfort foods instead.

Chocolate is calming. Ice cream is comforting. And fried chicken can be a best friend, at least for a moment.

When we are stressed, depressed, anxious, bored or lonely, we can be triggered to eat. These non-mealtime munchfests can become patterns that make it difficult to achieve and maintain a healthy body.

But there is good news! If we can learn what is eating at us, we can learn better eating habits by not turning to food to soothe us.

Here are five easy steps to help you manage your mood and manage your food:

 

1. Track your triggers for stress eating

 

It is vital to recognize the feelings that lead to your food choices.

Identify and label the emotions that make you psychologically hungry. What are the situations, moods or environments that cause you to overeat? Stress is a common trigger. And boredom can also cause overeating.

Which is easier: sailing through the drive-thru for a quick, tasty french fry fix, or scheduling a healthy activity instead?

Perhaps it’s the anger or frustration from a fight with your spouse that triggers you. Or it could be the depression and loneliness from not being connected to family or friends. Or even the aggravation from being overweight in the first place.

If you begin to track the triggers that cause you to reach for food (when you’re not hungry), you’ll become more aware of the negative outcomes of your choices, thus you’ll be able to better handle the mood/food connection.

 

2. Know what your “hunger” is hiding

 

For many who are overweight, food is the drug of choice to relieve emotional discomfort.

Food is an easily accessible alternative we use to mask problems like a broken heart, a grieving spirit, a frantic family or a lonely life. We can continually turn to combo meals to cope, but our waists get wider while our hungry hearts remain starved.

Stuffing our mouths and emotions with food does not address our real issues.

These could be issues from our past, such as an unresolved loss, or a present challenge, like a dissolving relationship.

We can become so adept at denying or minimizing whatever pains us that we believe our problems with food are only problems with food.

Until you acknowledge what your emotional hunger binges are attempting to hide, you will be stuck in an unhealthily (and hefty) state.

 

3. Remember what food is for

 

There is only one main reason why we should eat: because our body needs fuel.

If you struggle with stress eating, you have likely become unable to discern physical and psychological hunger.

Relearn what physical hunger truly is and stop eating when you’re satisfied, not when you’re stuffed.

Educate yourself about how the body uses food. For example, research how protein increases alertness, how carbohydrates increase calmness and how some fats are actually good for you.

Food should not be something to be feared or labeled as good or bad. Food can be enjoyed and even celebrated when it is not used as a punishment plan or escape tool.

Before you eat unplanned food, ask yourself if you are really hungry. If it has been only a short time since you last ate, chances are you aren’t really hungry.

 

4. Choose no or low-calorie comforts

 

There are many ways you can manage feelings like sadness, stress and boredom that don’t include huge calorie consumptions.

Physical activity produces endorphins, which boost your mood and energize you. A good night’s sleep can also be a powerful mood booster. Other options can include calling a friend, reading a book, taking a walk or enjoying a relaxing bath.

Simply relaxing can calm your body and your mind. Plus, you won’t feel the guilt of your post-pig-out pity party.

You will feel good about your choices, which will encourage you to do the same the next time you have a bad day.

 

5. Heal your hungry heart

 

Mindless, stress eating is not only a bad habit that will pack on the pounds, but it also does not have the power to heal a broken heart or bring lasting joy to the depressed.

A harmless plate of cookies can turn from an occasional treat for the family to an opportunity to gorge in an attempt to conceal troubling emotions.

Stress eating for comfort brings a temporary “high” because it is so enjoyable and easy to obtain. Don’t sabotage your best efforts to be healthy and lose weight by using cookies as your counselor.

You deserve to be healthy, physically and emotionally.

Identify your unmet needs, and be willing to put them on the table.

Express your feelings to a trusted friend, or seek support through a professional counselor.

Gain control of your eating and your life.

The only way to heal a hungry heart is to first acknowledge that it’s not about the food.

It’s about mood.

Your new life will be lighter in spirit and in pounds!

 

Contact Us

Related Posts

Grief

Try These 7 Resiliency-Building Tips

Resiliency is more than just coping. It is excelling in the both small and large challenges of life and coming through them stronger than before. It’s the emotional strength that helps you recover quickly – and thoroughly – from change. Resiliency also helps you bounce back after any adversity. Just as spring flowers are able ...

Stress

Shrink Your Stress : How to Get Rid of Guilt

We all know how the guilt we carry in our lives can feel like a weight around our neck, slowing us down and keeping us from moving forward. Guilt causes stress and stress can cause all kinds of physical illness. But imagine a gift that can increase self-esteem, reduce stress and can be given to ...

Anxiety

Spring Clean Your Environment

The flowers and trees are blooming and everyone is sneezing. It must be spring. Spring is a season of rebirth and change – and also lots of scrubbing, dusting and washing, otherwise known as spring cleaning. If you are feeling overwhelmed by stacks of who knows what – the stuff clogging your closet, or the ...

Holidays

Stress-Reducing Tips For 2019

Advertisements are filling the mail, decorations are mounting in the stores and the time for planning the events of the season is here. But thoughts of all these activities can bring more stress than pleasure if we lose perspective and allow anxiety to take over. If the holidays are becoming more stressful than joyful, you ...

Anxiety

Four Steps to Improved Mental Health

May is Mental Health Month, designed to raise awareness of mental health conditions and to improve wellness for all. One in five Americans has a treatable mental illness, and we all experience stress. The American Academy of Family Physicians reports two-thirds of visits to family physicians are due to stress-related symptoms. Clearly, we must consider ...