What is Stress Eating?
We all deal with stress in different ways. Some eat more and put weight on, while others skip meals and lose their appetite. Feeling tired, moody, emotional and anxious are all symptoms of stress.
Different types of Stress
Stress can occur for many different reasons. Stress can come from events such as losing a loved one, or from more simple daily events such as a project at work, change in job position, moving house or holiday time. Stress can also be induced though extraneous physical activity. Sometimes we know where our stress is coming from and other times our stressors are less obvious. Either way, our bodies deal with both emotional and with physical stress in the same way.
When we feel overloaded, wired, and filled with anxiety our bodies release stress hormones. It feels natural to seek out ways to relieve yourself of these overwhelming thoughts and feelings. Stress eaters who put on weight turn to food in order to alleviate their stress. Others who skip meals or lose their appetite may distract themselves of the problems they face, but they fail to fuel their body.
The Signs of Stress and Coping
Which of these sounds familiar to you?
- coffee throughout the day to keep you perky
- reaching for high fat/sugar/salt foods to calm you down
- mindless snacking on junk food
- skipping meals altogether
- eating fast food because you don’t have time to cook
- going on crash diets to lose weight
- not drinking enough water during the day
Stress, Eating and Reactions
Reacting to stress in this way will create more stress for your body. The levels of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol will rise in the body.
This will affect the body in many ways, including a reduced production of thyroid and sex hormones. A sluggish thyroid will affect every system in the body, notably your metabolism, leading to weight gain and heightened symptoms around menstruation for women and low testosterone production for men.
The constant release of stress hormones by your body primes you to store visceral fat around your abdomen. This leaves you at high risk for developing conditions such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and metabolic syndrome.
Stressor – an event or stimulus that causes you to experience stress
Stress – a negative condition that can have an impact on your mental and physical well-being
Coping – a problem solving process that you use to manage the stresses or events causing you stress
Adaptation – the process by which you modify the systems in your body to conform to the stress in your environment
I contacted the WeightMatters Practice in May last year and for the first time I felt that there was a possibility of overcoming the destructive relationship with food that took over my life from very young age. Living outside of London, the possibility of Skype appointments were extremely helpful but I also chose to travel to the office for some appointments.
During my sessions with WeightMatters we developed a range of techniques and strategies such that I actually began to feel comfortable around food again and my self-worth as a person began to grow. Eventually I was able to confront issues that I never thought were the root cause of my eating disorder, it was difficult but such a relief to be able to address them in a reassuring environment and to see how they impacted my life and caused me to turn to food. I would thoroughly recommend WeightMatters to anyone who is struggling with their relationship with food or body image.
* Disclaimer – Results may vary from person to person