Psychology Today

The Stress-Eating Effect

At various points in life I’ve definitely been a stress eater, a closet-stress eater if you will. Sometimes I almost planned and strategized my stress eating for very specific days, in specific setting with very specific foods (surprise, surprise for those who know me.). I’ve gone in and out of these seasons like a singer with a bad smoking addiction.

But life can be stressful. Food can be momentarily comforting. We can’t eat perfect all the time, right? These are things I'd always tell myself, especially after any stress-induced noshing. Somehow this reasoning had a way  to make such indulgences completely justifiable.

Speaking of stress, let’s just say I wanted this post up, like, last Tuesday, the very morning my week was hit (once again) with just that. sTreSs! Ironically, of all the things I had planned to next post on was the  effects of stress-eating. It was just that kind of week.  The one that would make a great movie. Who knows. Maybe one day it will ...

Sidenote: Life gets a lot easier when you just learn to laugh at these crazy moments/seasons.

There have been days lately that would've turned the Kristin of 4 or 5 years ago, into reasoning a Oreo-peanut-butter-dipping, chocolate stashed bowl, cookie evening frenzy. You can just ask a certain former college roommate just how these evenings went. Sometimes I feel I've been bad influence with my bizarre eating habits.

Uncertain patterns of life collide with our eating habits, creating less than healthy attachmenst and daily rituals with our food, no matter what it is your polishing off. Stress eating is more than just simply sulking after a breakup with a can of Redi Whip and Ben & Jerry's while viewing a rerun of Jerry MacGuire. It's running out the door scarfing down toast for breakfast when your late for work, scarfing chips while waiting on dinner to arrive because you haven't eaten since noon or stuffing your face with chocolate chip cookies on fridays nights because the week has finally come to an end and no one is around tell you you can’t! Been there. Done that.

Our society lives in a perpetual state of stress we’ve become dumb to. Yet when stress isn't dealt with it’s effects are  going to to show up regardless. And if it’s not your crappy attitude, it’s likely going to be your waistline.

The past few months, when life has hit me blindside, I’ve tried to make a more conscious effort of my settings and moods when I eat.  Few in our Americanized culture truly know how to live in the moment let alone enjoy meals at a pace our bodies can  keep up with what’s being shoveled in. When stress isn’t dealt with and we continue to feed such emotions (literally), we’re just propelling a vicious cycle.

Last month Psychology Today titled This Is Why We’re Fat & Sick: Stress in America:

Americans are more stressed and more unhappy than our counterparts in other countries. According to Columbia University's First World Happiness Report, the United States does not even make the top 10 in happiness rankings, logging in at number 11, behind Denmark, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, and Ireland. And our level of happiness has remained about the same for decades. As Paul Rosch, a clinical professor of medicine and psychiatry at New York Medical College and president of the non-profit American Institute of Stress in Yonkers, N.Y., succinctly puts it, "We have more or less accepted it as a way of life..."

And, accept, I’d rather not.

The more we are aware of these tiny inhibits on our healthy, hopefully, the more we can make a conscious effort to change our currents state of stress. And it sounds like there may be more to change than just our level of stress...