Why Do You Eat?
We all deal with stress. And we each have our own way of dealing with it. A very common way to deal with it, especially chronic stress, is eating. When stressed, our body releases cortisol, a stress hormone. It also releases ghrelin a hunger hormone.There are a few differences between eating when you are stressed out and eating because your body physically needs food. Click To Tweet
Ghrelin stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain. This tells the body that it wants to eat. Cortisol is what triggers our food cravings such as salty, sweet, and fried. In other words, when you are feeling stressed, you have an intense desire for foods that give you pleasure and a burst of energy.
But, how do you know when you are eating because you are hungry and when you are driven by stress?
What is Stress Eating and Physical Hunger?
There are a few differences between eating when stressed and eating because your body needs food. Yet, when you’re stressed it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference.
Here are some of the main differences between stress eating and when you need to eat.
- When you are hungry because of stress, it comes on quick and feels overwhelming. Physical hunger comes on more gradual and doesn’t demand instant satisfaction. When you are hungry, all the food sounds good. You just want to eat. But, when your hunger is due to stress you will crave specific foods, such as pizza or chocolate.
- When you are eating due to stress, you are eating in a mindless fashion without thinking about how much you are eating. (Like when you eat the whole bag of chips). But, when you eat for physical needs, you tend to be more aware of how much you are eating and when you are full.
- With physical hunger, you stop eating when you are full. If you are stress eating, your mind will still want more food even when your stomach is full. This is because this hunger does not come from the stomach. You may not be experiencing any more hunger pangs, but you fixate on the texture, smell or taste of specific foods.
- When you are eating to deal with stress, you often have feelings of guilt after you eat. This can be because you ate the whole bag of chips or the whole pint of ice cream, and you know that is not good for you.
How Can You Stop Stress Eating?
Knowing that you are stress eating is the first step to being able to overcome the habit. You acknowledge that your eating is an issue. The real cause is that you need to deal with your stress before you can overcome this habit. Mindfulness training would be a great place to start. A study published by the Journal of Obesity found that women who engaged in mindfulness training were less likely to stress eat. This training involves stress reduction techniques and how to effectively recognize hunger. Besides, it is being more aware of the taste of the foods they were eating.
Eating to make yourself feel better is not always a bad thing. Recognizing the reason, you are snacking and doing so in moderation is alright. You can do this by focusing on the taste and texture of the foods. You can enjoy one brownie or one small bowl of ice cream without feeling guilty. Eating for joy is healthy if you are reaching for those snacks and can do so in moderation.
For further information check out: The Stress-Proof Brain. It offers powerful, comprehensive tools based on mindfulness, neuroscience, and positive psychology. It will help you put a stop to unhealthy responses to stress—such as avoidance.
HEALTH IS A CHOICE-LEARN HOW TO USE IT!
I’m Shirley Noah. My mission to help you to be the best you can be. Also to have the stamina to live life to the fullest through healthy choices and healthy habits.
Watch for my new book-The Stress Connection: Break the Power of Chronic Stress with Healthy Eating and Healthy Habits