Stress eating is eating food in response to feeling uncomfortable, even though a stomach isn’t even showing signs of hunger. It’s also known as emotional eating. People sometimes allow their emotions — and not their body — to dictate when and how much they eat. Some people need professional help to overcome this, whereas some are able to apply positive habits to overcome the feeling to want to overeat. In the Body Reboot book we discuss how a keto diet, which is a low carb, high fat diet can help some people create better eating habits. Since it decreases one’s appetite it’s sometimes easier to fight off hunger on the keto diet. Read below for some additional tips on how to prevent stress eating from taking over. And stay tuned until the end of this article when we discuss how a keto diet can help suppress your appetite which can help lessen the need to stress eat.
Very Well Fit explains some of the symptoms of stress eating to look out for and how to be mindful of these feelings when they pop up.
So how do you know if you're a stress eater. There are clear signs that you eat because of emotional difficulty. You are an emotional eater if you answer yes to any of the following questions:
Do you ever eat without realizing you're even doing it?
Do you often feel guilty or ashamed after eating?
Do you often eat alone or at odd locations, such as parked in your car outside your own house?
After an unpleasant experience, such as an argument, do you eat even if you aren't feeling hungry?
Do you crave specific foods when you're upset, such as always desiring chocolate when you feel depressed?
Do you feel the urge to eat in response to outside cues like seeing food advertised on television?
Do you eat because you feel there's nothing else to do?
Does eating make you feel better when you're down or less focused on problems when you're worried about something?
If you eat unusually large quantities of food or you regularly eat until you feel uncomfortable to the point of nausea, you have a problem with binge eating. If you binge eat on a regular basis, please speak to your healthcare professional. But if stress eating is the main problem, you may be able to find a solution on your own.
Wondering what triggers to avoid? There are many triggers that Medical News Today discusses, from getting bored to allowing bad habits to be in charge and not the other way around.
Emotions, such as stress, are not the only triggers for emotional eating. Other common triggers that people report include:
Boredom: Being bored or having nothing to do is a common emotional eating trigger. Many people live very stimulating and active lives, and when they have nothing to do will turn to food to fill that vacuum.
Habits: These are often driven by nostalgia or things that happened in a person's childhood. An example might be, having ice cream after a good report card or baking cookies with a grandparent.
Fatigue: It is easier to overeat or eat mindlessly when fatigued, especially when tired of doing an unpleasant task. Food can seem like the answer to not wanting to do a particular activity anymore.
Social influences: Everyone has that friend who encourages them to get a pizza after a night out, go out for dinner or drinks after a difficult day, or as a reward for a good day. It can be easy to overeat when with friends or family.
Mayo Clinic gives us a list on a few ways to overcome stress eating. There are many more tips that we’ll discuss in this article as well.
When negative emotions threaten to trigger emotional eating, you can take steps to control cravings. To help stop emotional eating, try these tips:
Keep a food diary. Write down what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, how you're feeling when you eat and how hungry you are. Over time, you might see patterns that reveal the connection between mood and food.
Tame your stress. If stress contributes to your emotional eating, try a stress management technique, such as yoga, meditation or deep breathing.
Have a hunger reality check. Is your hunger physical or emotional? If you ate just a few hours ago and don't have a rumbling stomach, you're probably not hungry. Give the craving time to pass.
Daily Burn recommends thinking long term and being mindful of your activities. Being mindful and thinking of the future should help prevent you from overeating. Find ways to distract yourself so that you don't overeat.
Take a minute to focus on the future (whether that means recalling your weight loss goals, or how awesome you want to look on vacation next month) before you give in to stress eating. It can help get you out of the moment so you make healthier food choices instead of succumbing to the lure of a tasty treat, suggests a 2014 study.
In a study in the Journal of Obesity, women who underwent mindfulness training — learning stress reduction techniques, how to recognize hunger, and pay attention to taste — were less apt to stress eat and lost more belly fat compared to a control group. Next time you’re feeling taxed, try this exercise. You’ll learn to identify your feelings, accept the unpleasant ones and focus on your breathing so you can fight the automatic urge to reach for a snack.
There are other ways to cope, and even though we covered some of them above, here a few more tips from Medical News Today:
Keeping a food diary or journal can help to identify situations when someone is more likely to eat because of emotional instead of physical hunger.
Tracking their behavior is another way someone can gain insight into their eating habits.
The behavior they record can include:
patterns of hunger levels, maybe on a 1–10 scale
what they are doing and if it is tedious and unpleasant
what they are feeling, whether bored or angry,
Next, they may want to brainstorm ideas for ways to counteract the triggers they identify. For example:
Someone who eats when bored may want to find a new book that sounds exciting to start reading, or start a new hobby that could provide a challenge.
Someone who eats because of stress could try yoga, meditating, or taking a walk to help themselves cope with their emotions.
Someone who eats when they are depressed may want to call a friend, take the dog for a run, or plan an outing to cope with their negative feelings.
It can also be helpful to talk to a therapist or psychologist to discuss other ways to break the cycle of emotional eating.
A nutritionist or doctor may also be able to provide a referral to an expert or additional information on creating positive eating habits and a better relationship with food.
Emotional eating is not simply a matter of a person lacking self-discipline or needing to eat less. Likewise, people who eat to deal with stress do not just lack self-control.
Last, but certainly not least, Bulletproof blog explains why going on a keto diet can help. It helps suppress your appetite which makes it less likely for you to stress eat. Even if you get stressed out, you’re less likely to eat because you won’t have a big appetite.
Ketosis suppresses appetite in more than one way.
When you start eating more fat and cut out all those senseless carbs (sugar, bread, and the like), you tend to stop experiencing the blood sugar swings that plague most people on the Standard American Diet. These fluctuations cause intense hunger that keeps you lurching from one carb-heavy meal to the next, never feeling satisfied—and never reaching the deep fat-burning state of ketosis. But that’s not big news to most of us.
What’s exciting is that ketones suppress appetite in a variety of more subtle and significant ways because ketones can control hunger and satiety hormones. Scientists have identified that ketones impact cholecystokinin (CCK), a hormone which makes you feel full, and ghrelin, the “hunger hormone.”
Emotional eating is challenging, but with coping mechanisms, friends and family, and the keto diet there’s a way to push through it. Find out how people are getting a hold of their eating habits in the Body Reboot book. Sometimes emotional eating requires help, but going on the right diet can help too. To get your free copy, help us cover the cost of shipping and visit this page today.
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Discover how to activate your body's “Reboot Switch” that flips on a fat burning inferno so you can finally achieve your weight loss goals!