When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Patricia was deeply worried, and rightly so.
As a divorced single mother of two, who struggled to buy groceries, pay rent, car payments, and utility bills, she was on the brink of an emotional meltdown.
When she got laid off at the height of the pandemic - one of the 9.6 million workers who lost their jobs, Patricia couldn't cope with the financial stress.
She slid into anxiety and depression, and found solace in food - a dangerous pattern emotional eating therapists identify as stress eating.
What is Stress Eating?
Overwhelmed by jobs, family issues, or social commitments, several people resort to food. They overeat or consume unhealthy meals to relieve stress, claiming that it helps them relax.
According to the American Physiological Association, amid times of stress, individuals prefer to choose meals high in calories and fat, despite the fact that their systems retain more fat when they are stressed and worried than when they are tranquil.
Struggling with stress eating? Don't fret.
As a top emotional eating therapist in Texas, we've compiled some tips to help you put a stop to it.
How to Stop Stress Eating
Increase the level of physical activities you do
Physical activities can help you relax. You'll be much more immune to the impacts of stress if you're physically active. Physical activities such as exercising create some chemical changes in your brain that can help lower stress levels.
It is, however, worth noting that stress can hinder some individuals from partaking in the physical activities that could improve their mental and physical health.
If you are experiencing mental health issues that make going to the gym or even doing cardio workouts at home impossible, try doubling the level of strolling, housekeeping, and other milder types of movement and exercise you undertake daily.
Be aware of the things that stress you.
Do you know what makes you eat emotionally? It might be stress from work or anxiety. One of the most vital steps toward preventing stress-eating is identifying the circumstances that lead you to grab food.
Tuning in with oneself is an important step. You need to ask yourself each time before you eat whether you're consuming food because you're hungry or if it's a reaction to anything else, such as stress, before heading to the kitchen.
Make a mental note of what you're reacting to every time stress eating happens. This can assist you in determining which situations cause you to overeat so that you can prevent them.
Eliminate your kitchen's worst culprits
Many individuals can list the meals they turn to whenever they're stressed.
Following the identification of your stressors, the next stage is to eliminate the foods you usually eat whenever you're stressed, particularly those heavy in sugar, extensively manufactured, or high in fat.
This entails getting rid of the drinks and snacks you grab when you're stressed from your kitchen, office, and car.
Substitute them with healthier alternatives that will help you feel fuller when you're anxious.
Pay heed to the signals your body sends you
To help reduce stress eating, learn to distinguish between feeling hungry and desiring to eat.
If you're having trouble distinguishing between the two, eat something substantial and then pause a few minutes. If the need to eat persists, it may be due to emotion rather than hunger.
If you're suffering from stress eating and need help establishing healthy eating habits, True U Wellness Clinic can help.
Our emotional eating therapists can walk the journey with you, helping you identify your stressors and formulate customized nutritional plans and guidelines for a healthier, happier you.
Book a consultation today.