Stress eating: Why it Happens and Five Ways to Deal With It

stressed employee

Stress is part of everyday life. It happens when you’re juggling many tasks, when you’re worried about an upcoming event, or when you’re simply trying to meet a deadline. While some stress is normal, too much can adversely affect your health.

Negative Effects of Stress

Stress happens when your brain releases chemicals such as cortisol that signal your body to prepare for a threat. This “fight-or-flight” response can be helpful if you’re in danger, but it’s not so helpful when you’re stuck in traffic or worried about a presentation at work. When this response is constantly triggered, it can take a toll on your health.

Stress can lead to various problems, one of which is depression.


Depression is a mental health disorder that can affect the way people feel. It can also lead to the loss of interest in various activities. IT’s different from feeling down or going through a tough time. It’s a prolonged low mood and apathy that can last for weeks or longer. Stress can cause depression, especially if the stress has been around for quite some time.

Stress can also lead to physical problems such as:

  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Stomach problems
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue

However, there is one more symptom that is often overlooked, and that is stress eating.

Depressed businesswoman

Stress Eating

Stress eating is when you eat even though you’re not hungry. It’s a way of using food to cope with stress. Some people turn to comfort foods like ice cream or cookies, while others may overeat or binge eat.

However, cortisol is also released when you’re hungry. It can be hard to distinguish between stress eating and actual hunger.

Here are five signs that you may be stress eating:

  • You eat even if you’re not hungry
  • You eat to cope with emotions such as sadness, anger, or anxiety
  • You keep eating even after you’re full
  • You eat unhealthily or “junk” foods
  • Your eating habits change when you’re under stress

The problem with stress eating is that it can lead to weight gain and other health problems. Obesity is a significant risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. If you’re struggling with stress eating, there are ways to stop.

Five Ways to Deal With Stress Eating

Recognize The Signs

If you’re stress eating, there are a few signs that you should look out for. The first is if you’re eating even though you’re not hungry. If you’re using food to cope with emotions, that’s another sign to watch out for. You may also keep eating even after you’re full or eat unhealthily or “junk” foods. Your eating habits may also change when you’re under stress.

Identify Your Triggers

One way to stop stress eating is to identify your triggers. What situations or emotions trigger your stress eating? Once you know what triggers your stress eating, you can start to deal with it.

Choose Healthy Foods

If you’re stress eating, you may be turning to unhealthy or “junk” foods. However, there are healthy foods that can help you cope with stress. These include foods high in protein and fiber, such as nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains. You should also eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Create A Plan

Once you know your triggers and have healthy foods, you can create a plan to deal with stress eating. For example, if you know that you tend to stress eat when you’re bored, come up with a list of activities you can do instead of eating. Likewise, if you know you’re stressed, eat when you’re sad and call a friend or relative to talk to instead of heading to the fridge.

Find Other Ways to Cope

Stress eating isn’t a disease. Instead, it’s a way to cope. This means that other ways to cope don’t involve food. For example, you can try exercise, deep breathing, or talking to a friend.

Binge Eating

Stress eating can be a platform that’ll catapult you to certain mental disorders, one of which is binge eating. So if you’ve discovered that you’re binge eating, you must stop it before it worsens.

Binge eating happens when you eat a large amount of food in a short period and feel out of control. It’s different from overeating, which is eating more than you should in one sitting. Binge eating can lead to weight gain and health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

If you’ve been binge eating while under stress, you will need professional help. There are binge eating therapy centers that can help you out. These centers have robust programs to help you get your life back on track. They’re your best option once your binge eating gets worse.

In short, stress eating is a common problem that many people face. However, there are ways to deal with it. By implementing these options, you can deal with binge eating issues. Moreover, if you’ve noticed y urself binge eating lately, stop it before it gets worse. You don’t want to devel p a mental disorder just because you’re stressed.

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