Generally, when individuals experience stress episodes and they are in a state of “discomfort”, and are looking at ways to release the discomfort, they look at “food” as an escape mechanism.
Stress is just like any other emotion
An emotion works a bit like someone knocking on your door to deliver a message. If the message is urgent, the knock is loud, if it is very urgent the knock gets louder; if it is very urgent and you don’t answer the door, the knock keeps getting louder until you open the door or the door is broken. Either way, the emotion will continue to come up until it has done its job. As soon as you ‘open the door’ by listening to the emotional message and taking appropriate action, the emotion goes away.
When these episodes occur about three to four times a week to about once a day or more, it is considered to be stress eating.
How does stress cause over eating?
Stress impacts the mind as well as other areas such as the immune system, gut, etc. When stress occurs in a fast-paced world, it leads to the release of a stress hormone called cortisol. This hormone triggers cravings for quick digesting foods (breads, cakes, South Indian breakfasts, etc.), high-fat foods (oily snacks like bajjis/bondas/manchuria/samosas/chocolates/desserts or other favourite comfort foods) — foods that give you a burst of energy and pleasure. The more uncontrolled the stresses are in your life, the more likely you are to turn to food for emotional relief as it provides comfort.
Uncontrollable stresses starts a vicious cycle of weight gain, immunity related issues and various metabolic syndromes.
How do the following “diets”, “diet fads” and “diet regimes” aggravate stress eating?
Familiarity is a human being’s strongest basic instinct as researched by many psychologists and professionals in behavioural therapy. Food tastes and habits have their genesis in genes and many times start in the womb. When we start a diet regime, which is alien to us, it starts with stress, feeling of being deprived of the familiar lifestyle and it is the will power that is used. The stress continues to build and with time (depending on the intensity of stress and one’s will power), we give in and let go of the diet regime. At that point, the feeling of deprivation is so intense that we rebound and overindulge in our comfort or favourite foods. Therefore, the weight that has been lost is regained very quickly.
The sad news is that physiologically – when we lose weight, we lose muscle and when we gain weight, we gain fat. This leads to a reduced metabolism and other psychological issues like bad programming – weight loss is difficult, you feel worthless, your self-esteem is low and you are frustrated at not being able to achieve the your goals.
How do we overcome stress eating?
Take help of a professional who can transition you to a healthy active lifestyle seamlessly
When we make changes to our lifestyle for better health, we go through discomfort. Taking help from a professional coach to help transition into the desired lifestyle sustainably and seamlessly has been proven to be a game changer. Following diet fads and doing quick fixes will only worsen these issues.
Become aware of your stressors and your responses to them
Start becoming aware of the issues that cause stress and your response to them. Once these are identified, there are scientific tools such as “havening” to get over emotional eating at that point. Also, there are many professionals who can help one get over the concerned stress or help deal with the stress differently or help look at these issues from a different perspective or perceived a different reality.
Use scientifically designed mind processes to break childhood patterns
Childhood patterns of eating/comfort that might have been formed in the womb or over time do generally require some scientific mind patterns. These patterns are sustainable and user friendly. They offer flexibility for us as individuals and increase the number of choices for us in any given situation.
Let me illustrate this further: If I am an emotional eater, every time I am stressed, I tend to look for chocolate cake or a comfort food that I have been used to in the past. There is an automatic reaction (in the mind) that takes place in response to the situation. By automatic reactions, I mean I see the picture of the cake or the comfort food in my mind vividly or I can feel the sensations in my mouth and throat. These sensations only get bigger and more intense. The intensity of the sensations and the kind of sensations that happen in the body are person specific. These sensations happen until I am only thinking of it and finally get it and eat it. Alternatively, if I see a chocolate cake or my favourite comfort food available in front of me, my senses automatically get active and these become more intense until I pick it up and eat it. These are automatic responses and at that time, we do not check our hunger levels and we give ourselves no choice but to pick it up. Through professional help, we can break the “automatic response”. We don’t need to look for food as comfort any longer; we can also eat our favourite foods out of choice depending on hunger levels and other criteria. I therefore have choices available for me versus “no choice”. I can choose to not eat the chocolate cake at that time, as I am not hungry or eat later or eat little bit or eat the whole.
The decisions of eating become more rational rather than being over powered by emotions or surrendering to it.
For more information on stress eating, refer to emotional eating.
Our Service Offerings:
- The success rate of sustainability of weight loss and the ability to follow an appropriate nutrition plan is as low as 1%. Using scientific mind and body processes, we can improve it many fold
- Emotional eating, stress eating, binge eating and cravings are the biggest reasons for unsustainable weight loss. We identify the issue accurately and help you move out of the condition comfortably with scientific mind and body processes