BlogNutrition8 Stress — Induced Eating Habits and How They Impact Your Life

8 Stress — Induced Eating Habits and How They Impact Your Life

Mariia Roza
Written by Mariia Roza on May 11, 2020

Table of contents

A stressful event can cause changes to our behavior and lead to both weight gain or weight loss depending on your reaction. Whether it’s a job change, loss of a loved one, adverse financial situation or a global pandemic, these 8 stress-induced eating habits commonly occur when individuals feel emotional or physical tension.

Emotional eating 

The increased levels of cortisol in your body are caused by stress. However, many people get short-term relief from this stress by eating snacks. This can manifest into constantly craving unhealthy foods and eating to feel better.

Skipping meals

When stressed, people often fall on one of two ends of the spectrum. They’re either emotional eaters who crave food in order to feel better, or they entirely lose their appetite. If you’re someone who loses their appetite when stressed when they may skip meals altogether. You could also skip meals simply because you don’t have the proper time to eat. You often see this with job stress – breakfast or lunch isn’t eaten because the person is running late or has something scheduled during that window of time.

Consuming fast food

Who wants to cook when they’re stressed? You’re much more likely to stop at a fast-food restaurant, and their food is often high in both sugar and fat. This means you never get the same nutritional value as a homecooked meal.

Eating junk food can be the result of stress | Shutterstock
Eating junk food can be the result of stress | Shutterstock

Forgoing exercise

Depending on what’s causing your stress, you may forgo exercise. For example, if a high-pressure job is interfering with your life, it’s unlikely you’re making it to the gym. Likewise, if you just lost a friend or family member, you may lose all motivation to workout. This cause can cause a domino effect on your diet.

Eating more high-fat, high-sugar foods

Chronic stress can often cause our bodies to crave sugary, salty, and fatty foods. Because these foods are typically unhealthy, they can lead to weight gain.

Forgetting water

Water helps keep our bodies balanced, but people who are stressed often forget to drink enough, which can cause major disruption. Even when you’re dealing with life’s challenges, drinking water is crucially important to your body, and it can help prevent other stress-induced eating habits on this list. For instance, many people confused thirst for hunger and eat more as a result. Therefore, keeping up with your daily water intake and drinking an entire glass of water whenever you feel hungry can sometimes eliminate an unnecessary, stress-induced need to eat altogether. Other times, it helps you feel full at the end of your snack or meal.

Drink water to deal with stress-induced eating | Shutterstock
Drink water to deal with stress-induced eating | Shutterstock

Attempting dangerous diets

When stress-induced eating causes you to gain weight, you may be tempted to try out that new diet you’ve seen celebrities or influencers doing. However, these fad diets are often dangerous and imbalanced. They cut out entire food groups and can be unhealthy in the long-term.

Sleeping less

Stress impacts nearly every aspect of our daily life including those 8 hours you’re supposed to get every night. When you have trouble sleeping, you’re less likely to fight the urge for those high-fat, high-sugar foods that have such a poor impact on your health.

Lack of sleep can increase your hunger | Shutterstock
Lack of sleep can increase your hunger | Shutterstock

Sources

  • Yau Y. H. C., Potenza M. N. (2013, September). Stress and Eating Behaviors. Minerva Endocrinologica. PMID: 24126546
  • Wagner H. S., Ahlstom B., Redden J. P., et al. (2014, December). The Myth of Comfort Food. Health Psychology. DOI: 10.1037/hea0000068
  • Chao A. M., Jastreboff A. M., White M. A., et al. (2017, April). Stress, Cortisol, and Other Appetite-Related Hormones: Prospective Prediction of 6-Month Changes in Food Cravings and Weight. Obesity (Silver Spring). DOI: 10.1002/oby.21790