How Stress Can Affect Your Eating Habits
If you have heard of the term “Stress eating”, then this will probably come as no surprise to you. Many people have discovered that when they are under a lot of emotional stress, they don’t lose their appetite like some, but actually get a bigger appetite and more cravings. Typically, you aren’t actually hungrier, but you feel like you want to eat to help soothe the stress.
What is Stress Eating?
Stress eating and emotional eating are very closely linked. This is when you are feeling down, sad, upset, stressed, or depressed, and you want instant gratification. Stress hormones can actually make you feel like you are hungry because you know eating something will provide short-term relief. This is the same way emotional eating works. You want a quick fix, so you think about how food will help, and then over time, every time you are stressed, you suddenly feel hungry. Except most of the time, it is not true hunger from not eating enough. It is related to your stress levels.
Increase in Sugar and Junk Food Cravings
There is also a strong correlation between the types of foods you crave when you are stressed. If you are constantly craving sugar, carbs, or fried foods when you are “starving” in between meals, it is probably more from your stress and not actual hunger. Otherwise, eating an apple or salad or healthy dinner would satiate your hunger. When you don’t feel satisfied after eating something healthy, the hunger is more likely from how you feel mentally or emotionally. This can also be true of other foods that are comfort foods for you, even if it’s not necessarily sugar and carbs.
How to Manage Stress and Hunger
Once you figure out that all your extra hunger is from stress and not from your appetite itself, you know it is time to manage your stress levels. This in turn will help to balance out your appetite and give you more realistic hunger cues.
Find the source of your stress first. This can be any combination of things, from financial and works tress, relationship or family stress, or just daily stress from a busy and hectic lifestyle. See if you can switch things up to reduce the main source of your stress. If it’s impossible to avoid, look for ways to relax at the end of the day to reduce some of that stress instead of just continuing to pile it on.