A common cause of overeating and weight gain is emotional eating, or stress eating. Stress eating is basically eating because you’re stressed instead of when you’re hungry.
Why do you stress eat?
People who are stress eaters, or emotional eaters, have developed a habit of using food to make themselves feel better when negative emotions become overwhelming. It’s a learned behavior that can be taught as early as childhood. Beyond habit, stress eating can also occur because stress triggers hormones in the body that cause hunger.
Are you hungry or stressed?
The first step to breaking the pattern of stress eating is to learn to recognize when it’s happening. When you feel an intense craving for food, stop for a moment and consider if you’re turning to food because you’re hungry, or if you have additional stress going on at the moment. Take a breath. Sometimes simply recognizing what is going on will be enough for the hunger to dissipate.
What can you do if you’re stressed (besides eat)?
Once you’ve learned to recognize the habit of stress eating, the next step is to form a new, healthier habit in place of the old one. In other words, find ways to handle your stress that have nothing to do with food. You may try exercise, meditation, deep breathing, positive thinking, or a simple distraction like calling up a friend to talk.