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Five Reasons You Indulge in Emotional Eating When Stressed

Five Reasons You Indulge in Emotional Eating When Stressed

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

The time is now to take control of your emotional eating. It can be tempting to want to reach for snacks and sweets after a breakup or after a stressful day at work, but emotional eating is not the answer. Emotional eating overtime can result in obesity and increase the risk for heart disease, diabetes and depression. Knowing why you emotionally eat could be the step you need to overcome the behavior and help you stop. Here are five common reasons for emotional eating.

  1. Lack of Time or Money
    This is probably one of the most common reasons for emotional eating. Personally, my emotional eating is stemmed from stress and lack of time. You may not have enough to eat during the day and when you get home, you are so hungry that you do not want to think about eating or preparing food. As a result, you opt to stuff your face with unhealthy foods when you get home or go and get fast food. Also, money issues are a huge source of stress for emotional eating. You may opt for cheaper process foods to save money however these foods are higher in fat, salt, and sugar, versus the more expensive fruits and vegetables.
  2. Lack of Mindfulness
    When you are not present, you tend to move from one task to the next without a break. Your mind is constantly in “fight or flight” mode which makes you feel like you have to keep moving and rushing throughout the day. This leads you to not be present of what you are doing because you are too busy worried about all the things that need to get done or paid. As a result, you binge on food while multi-tasking. For example, you may start eating while on your laptop and before you know it, you have eaten a load of junk food and are completely stuffed.  Your brain is less likely to catch the signals that you are full when you rush and eat.
  3. Lack of Sleep
    Stress results in a lack of sleep. According to the 2014 APA “Stress in America” survey, 42% of Americans reported “laying awake at night “because of stress.” Stress and worry are major causes of insomnia. Lack of sleep disrupts the body by changing the functioning of of ghrelin and leptin—chemicals that control appetite.  Lack of sleep can cause of to feel depressed and grumpy and we may eat to help manage these emotions. Lack of sleep may also cause us to believe we are hungry when in reality, we are just tired.  Lack of sleep stops us from being able to resist temptation and make healthy choices.
  4. Lowered Metabolism
    Stress actually lowers your metabolism so there is more energy for fighting or fleeing. Our ancestors had a scarce food supply so our bodies got wired to hang on to fat, especially fat around the belly which protects our internal organs. Furthermore, you may put more weight on due to stress than usual. This uncontrollable weight gain may make you feel helpless and depressed. Excess belly fat also releases chemicals that can cause inflammation which negatively affect your overall health. You may feel more tired or have less will-power to embark on a healthier lifestyle.
  5. Late-Night Eating
    Eating at night may seem like a great way to end the day. After all, after a stressful day, you make work up a huge appetite. You also could be staying up late working on assignments or watching TV. If you have trouble sleeping, staying up all night can make it more tempting to indulge in snacks. The evening is high-risk time for emotional eating because we are winding down and have less willpower. We are also more likely to keep eating at night.  According to a study by John De Castro, a psychology professor at the University of Texas, food actually becomes less satisfying at night and leaves us less full than it does during the day.

Which reason for overeating stood out to you? Researching overeating definitely taught me some things I never knew were reasons why I overate. Now that I am more mindful of the reasons I overeat, I can start to avoid putting myself in those situations. Overtime you can reduce your emotional eating. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588.

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