Deanna Minich, PhD
Have you ever felt like reaching for the pint of strawberry ice cream after a long day at work?
Or eating potato chips after an argument with a loved one?
Or even craving chocolate when feeling bored or isolated?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you might be “stress eating,” or what is commonly referred to as “emotional eating.” Stress eating is turning to food in times of psychological distress as a form of comfort rather than in response to hunger. Whether it’s stress or a specific emotion, like sadness, we may develop a coping response by eating, either overeating or under-eating. In general, emotional eating involves eating nutrient-poor foods, is often repetitive and automatic, and is not connected to body senses of physical hunger, but to an emotional stimulus.1 Some of us are more prone to being high reactors to stress and may be more vulnerable than others.2
Here’s a quick checklist to see whether you might be engaging in stress eating:
Here are some things you can do to break the cycle of stress eating:
Stress eating can be a challenging cycle to break. There are several ways to address the cycle, whether through body awareness, emotional expression, alternative options, better choices, or simply, brain chemistry balance through nutrient sufficiency. Try out a variety of these approaches to see if you feel more empowered in your eating in times of distress.
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Certain persons, considered experts, may disagree with one or more of the foregoing statements, but the same are deemed, nevertheless, to be based on sound and reliable authority. No such statements shall be construed as a claim or representation as to Metagenics products, that they are offered for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of any disease.