Emotional eating. I’m sure we’ve all done it. Or, maybe we’ve done the opposite, and abstained from eating because of an emotional situation. This is probably one of my greatest weaknesses; I have a stress-craving trigger that would test most people’s will-power and a caffeine addiction that I’ve “beaten” about twelve different times now. It’s easy to take good care of ourselves when life is going our way. But, what about all those times when things seem a little out of control?
Things have been hectic lately. Between great opportunities and stressful set-backs (such as, loved ones being in the hospital), stress has been a huge factor in my life lately. Now, stress can be good, in moderation. It can keep you on your feet and help you prioritize. However, overt stress is hard on the body and mind. It tests your self-control and tempts you into slipping back into bad habits. As hard as I try most of the time to eat right, though, sometimes it just seems like such a good idea to have that Mountain Dew or sneak some McDonald’s instead of that healthier option I’d been planning on.
Stress eating. It’s a horrible cycle. Usually, there’s guilt. In fact, in many ways, a stress-triggered craving can be tied to some serious health problems, such as eating disorders. Often, emotional eating leads to feelings of guilt or regret, similar to what some people would experience after a bulimic binge. While the self-induced harm isn’t quite as significant as that in a full-blown eating disorder, it’s hard on both the body and the mind. You eat to get rid of the negative feelings, to “feel” better…and often end up feeling worse in the end.
I think it’s valuable to note that most Americans know that they eat wrong. They understand that they should try harder. But emotional eating is a hard cycle to break. It’s a tough monster to beat. Understanding just how hard it can be might make it easier to beat, though. And every person who understands the downfalls of emotional eating, has the tools to beat it.
So, next time you’re feeling fried and that chocolate cake, that sugar-loaded soda, or that huge plate of nachos is giving you “the eye,” consider your options. You can stress eat, feel better for a few minutes, and feel badly about it afterward, or…you can take the high road, remember your well-being, and feel accomplished later. You may want that triple-chocolate fudge brownie, but I’m sure you’ll be happier you didn’t give in later on.