Men and women have different coping mechanisms when stressed, tired, heartbroken, depressed or celebrate happiness. Men if stressed or depressed, tend to hang out with their buddies, go to a pub, play cards, watch sports and drink beer. Women if stressed or depressed will tend to mope, cry, call their girlfriends and eat. Eat as in eat almost everything that will make them feel good and forget the cause of their depression or anger. In some cases, this can happen for weeks. A bowl of popcorn, a tub of ice cream, a slice of chocolate cake, a bar of candy, a big bag of potato chips is some of the most common food that a woman can get in coping with their pent up emotions. There are cases that food sometimes used as a reward for doing something good with children, which is a behavior that can be carried. This is called emotional eating.
What Is Emotional Eating?
Emotional eating, binge eating or compulsive overeating is characterized by the compulsive food eating. Experts also address this as food addiction. A person suffering from emotional eating engages in frequent episode of uncontrolled eating on which a person may feel frenzied or out of control, most often consuming food past the point of being comfortably full. This will be followed by feelings of depression and guilt. Emotional eating has many causes. Below are some of the main reasons why people, specifically women, tend to eat when stressed or depressed:
- Cortisol cravings. Stress can increase the levels of cortisol also known as the stress hormone. Cortisol gives numerous benefits to the body but if excessive levels go unchecked due to chronic stress, its cause issues in the body. High cortisol levels can result to cravings for sweet and salty foods.
- Social eating. People experiencing stress seek out social support which is a good way of helping in relieving stress. This goes both for men and women. This can be a dilemma for dieters especially when people are being together in one place or get together, the tendency is to eat out and go for a nice meal. Having a couple of hot fudge, going out to unwind and have a plate of fried appetizers, a bowl of chips, a large order of deep dish pizza while discussing or crying your heart out with your friends are all forms of emotional eating. It can make you feel better and forget the stress but you may regret eating too much later.
- A nervous energy. When people are anxious or stressed, many people tend to eat to release the stress and to lose focus on what it is making them nervous. People tend to munch on chips, drink soda or in some cases drink a couple shots of liquor to make them relax.
- Habits during childhood. Many wonderful and unforgettable childhood memories involve food. Whenever the family is gathering, there is enough food to feed two whole clan, whenever you visit your grandmother, the first thing that she would do is to feed you even if you’re not that hungry. Your parents may have rewarded you with sweets if you do something good, bought you an ice cream after having your tooth pulled or make your favorite meal to celebrate any type of success that you have made. These habits can develop into emotionally –based attachments to food up until you reach adulthood. When stress is just too heavy to bear, a comforting serving of your favorite food can be a powerful stress-reliever. But too much of it or too often can cause an imbalance to your diet. Too much salt, sugar and carbohydrates can raise the risk of you developing hypertension, obesity and diabetes.
- Hiding emotions. Another reason people tend to go on emotional eating is to hide their emotions. People who are not used to or uncomfortable with confrontations may deal their frustrations by eating rather that confronting someone and letting them know how they feel. Food can take over open communication which can lead to further stress and frustrations. Food can take the focus off of resentment, anger, anxiety and fear.
Emotional eating is eating for a purpose other than curing your hunger. Comfort foods may be the answer but it is very easy to see how emotional eating can hinder a person’s effort in controlling binge eating, their weight and having the right eating habits. If you’re using food to bring peace and satisfaction to your life, then you are using emotional eating as a coping mechanism. The best way to deal with stress is to face them head on, do sports, try yoga, learn kickboxing, chop down a tree or something. Find an outlet for your frustration and do something that will make a positive difference. It is much better than sitting idly and wolfing down a whole pizza because you feel depressed. Controlling yourself when it comes to emotional eating can make a big difference to your health and wellness. Start it today.