What Is Stress Eating And How To Stop It?

What Is Stress Eating And How To Stop It?

Changing lifestyle and increased mental pressure has led to a host of problems for people around the world. This has resulted in people being diagnosed with multiple disorders and diseases. Stress eating is one of them. It is a practice that should be avoided at all costs but is still not taken care of most of the time. But we have provided you with an article that tackles the question of how to stop stress eating and does enable an answer that can be considered fairly optimum.

What Is Stress Eating?

Stress eating disorder is a result of some mental health issue or psychological trauma. It can be considered as a ‘coping mechanism’ where one’s body decides to resort to the ‘comfort foods’ that they like in order to get rid of the stress or anxiety. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, nearly one-fourth of the American population rate the level of stress they face as 8 when told to rate on a 10-point scale. Researchers around the world have also associated weight gain with the amount of stress a person has. A study by Harvard Health notes how stress levels can change eating habits and states that:

“In the short term, stress can shut down appetite. The nervous system sends messages to the adrenal glands atop the kidneys to pump out the hormone epinephrine (also known as adrenaline). Epinephrine helps trigger the body's fight-or-flight response, a revved-up physiological state that temporarily puts eating on hold."

"But if stress persists, it's a different story. The adrenal glands release another hormone called cortisol, and cortisol increases appetite and may also ramp up motivation in general, including the motivation to eat. Once a stressful episode is over, cortisol levels should fall, but if the stress doesn't go away — or if a person's stress response gets stuck in the ‘on’ position — cortisol may stay elevated.”

Why Does Emotional Eating Disorder Happen?

Stress or emotional eating can be attributed to various reasons that also include the upbringing of a person and their emotional stability. Therefore, read carefully to understand what reasons have been impacting you and find the possible solutions with the guide mentioned thereafter.

You Find It Difficult To Deal With Emotions

Some people find it very difficult to deal with their emotions and tend to rely on different modes to cope with them in order to ‘escape’ from their problems. This is where they can start stress eating as a result of not having control over emotions. Moreover, there are situations wherein negativity might encompass the way a person thinks, which will then lead to deteriorated mental health. Sometimes people tend to overeat at a party or occasion as no one would doubt such an act. Behind the joyful events, they find a way to get rid of stress by stuffing in food that is not really needed at that moment.

Upbringing As A Child


When we are younger, we develop a kind of living and nature due to the surroundings that we live in. This also impacts stress eating habits as one is always given a piece of chocolate or toffee whenever they feel stressed or something unpleasant happens in their life. Most parents think that feeding the child their favourite food or dish would lighten up their mood and that is what exactly happens. This habit is then carried forward to adulthood when the person doesn’t decide what to eat to control emotional eating and ends up falling into the trap.

One who might eat a packet of chips after a bad day at school would grow to be an adult who would instantly grab a number of such packs after a hectic day at work. This can be avoided with a slight change in parenting and talking about their problems rather than distracting their minds with food. Moreover, good eating habits taught in childhood would last for a lifetime so it is worth investing time in building them.

How To Stop Stress Eating?

If you want to stop emotional eating then refer to the following points that will aid you in the same. The points mention what things to avoid and what to do to relieve yourself from the trap of eating due to negative emotions and other possible reasons. Therefore, while reading jot down the important points if possible for future reference.

Avoid These Triggers

Stress or emotional eating is not always a result of stress, anxiety, or any other mental health condition. There can be various reasons for it apart from such emotions. These have been listed below and are advised to be avoided at all costs to stop emotional eating.

1. Habits

The eating habits that you might have developed as a child are to be worked on. You need to control yourself from eating due to one or the other occasion. You might also be nostalgic about something while doing so but it is important to focus on the fact that stress eating is not something that you want to rely on for life. Therefore, avoid such habits to the extent you can. Habits do take a lot of time to change but with significant efforts, it is indeed possible.

2. Feeling Bored

Sometimes when people are bored they want to do some or other activity which might not even be relevant at that point in time. One of them can be eating. At that moment the person might not be hungry at all but would just look forward to eating something good to deter boredom. It is better to do other activities like reading a book, listening to music, or even resting that would help your body rejuvenate the energy instead of doing harm to itself.

3. Peer Pressure

There can be instances where one has been influenced by their peers to eat when they are not hungry at all. This can be a result of a night out or even a casual conversation with a friend over a call. Just because they might be eating something delicious, the other person tends to be influenced and gets false craving alarms and eats just to satisfy it even though they might have eaten enough food just a few minutes prior to that. It is better not to fall into such traps and be cautious about eating only when you feel hungry.

4. Exhaustion And Fatigue

If one is exhausted or tired physically, the first thing that comes into mind is to regain the lost energy. For this, they often resort to mindless eating, which can also be categorised as stress eating. People should be cautious when doing such things. It is recommended that they only eat a limited amount of food that is sufficient to get their energy back. Moreover, once they feel somewhat full and better, they should stop eating as post that all of it would be considered as mindless and stressful eating.

Strategies To Cope With Stress Eating Disorder

For getting rid of emotional eating, one should first identify their trigger points that lead to overeating. In addition, they should be well aware of whatever happens in their daily routine in order to fight this problem in an optimum manner. This can be done by maintaining a food diary or a journal that maintains a record of what they eat and how much they eat in a day. It will aid in tracking the loopholes in their daily activities that can be worked on and fixed. The record should include points like:

  • Hunger levels during the day (rating them out of 10)
  • Activities that are undertaken whenever they feel stressed or unpleasant.
  • Feelings that they experience during the day, whether sorrow, anger, or boredom.

After identifying the triggers, it is time to find potential solutions for them. Some examples that could help one to stop emotional eating are:

  • One who feels bored often can get a book of the genre they love and read it in their leisure time. In addition, they can listen to music. Also, they can try developing a new hobby to keep them busy.
  • People who eat due to depression or negative thoughts can resort to activities that they like doing. These include playing with their pets, talking to a friend, and hanging out with them.
  • Someone who overeats due to stress or anxiety can look forward to trying meditation, yoga, or a walk to relax their distressed mind.

In addition to the above-mentioned points, one can seek help from a therapist or psychologist if they think there are underlying mental health issues that need professional help. Getting therapy and treatment from professionals might prove to be extremely helpful. Further, a doctor or nutritionist who can help with dietary requirements can also be consulted for better results.

Winding It Up!

We hope that the above article helps you to stop stress eating in the long run as it is a serious disorder that can also lead to various other health problems if not controlled in time. Do closely refer to the points mentioned in the article and try adhering to the ones that have been recommended to solve this issue of overeating due to stress.

It requires one to change their entire lifestyle along with habits that they developed over time and could not get rid of. Therefore, it might be a little difficult at first but with dedication and the right amount of effort, you will be able to do it. Do comment down below about your journey below so we can also get an insight into your achievements.

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Alessia Braun

Alessia Braun is a health, fitness, and beauty influencer who wishes to share her knowledge through her articles in News Magnify.

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