Emotional binge eating – we all have been there at some point. So, no judgements, we promise! But there is really something quite comforting and then, immensely guilt-tripping, about eating to comfort ourselves in the throes of stress. And, as if it weren’t bad enough that we have an insatiable need to stuff ourselves in the midst of our stress, we always seem to reach out for the most unhealthy, indulgent snacks imaginable. Think that pint of creamy sea salt caramel ice-cream you drowned your stress-induced sorrows in. Or that pack of piping hot French fries you got McDelivered to your doorstep while finishing up work in the middle of the night.
Well, we are writing this blog post to tell you more about your stress binge eating habits cos really: know better, do better — right? Here are three things you need to know about emotional eating: how it really affects you and what you can do to mitigate its effects on your body.
1) Food = Comfort is a fact
No, you are not weak for craving for that chocolate bar when you are stressed out. After all, you have biology and years of socialisation working against you!
Yes, biologically speaking, your body is hard-wired to crave for food when you are stressed out. Your adrenal glands are prompted to produce extra cortisol when you are stressed, which is the chemical which tells you that you are hungry. So you really ARE hungry!
Furthermore, the concept that we derive comfort from food is one that we have been socialised into, starting way back in our babyhood. Many a time, babies cry because they are upset, tired, uncomfortable, or stressed out. And when they cry, often, the first reaction from their parents would be to offer the baby milk to help soothe him or her. So the idea that food is a source of comfort has its beginnings from here.
So quit beating yourself up over your seeming lack of self-control! Fact is, you have so much stacked up to make food such an enticing source of comfort when you are stressed out.
2) We are biologically programmed to crave for unhealthy food when stressed
OK, so as if it weren’t enough that we are pre-programmed to want to eat our sorrows and stresses away, we are also biologically wired to reach out for those really junky and unhealthy foods.
To understand this, let’s take a closer look at some of the foods that we tend to obsess over while on a stress-eating binge. Foods like ice-cream, desserts, fried foods and chocolate are high in sugar, carbohydrate and fat content — which is exactly makes these food the comfort foods that they are, and are what your bodies seek out for when stressed. Because your mind sends out chemicals alerting your body that is is stressed out, your body responds by telling you that it needs energy, FAST, to overcome the stressful situation and anxiety. And so, you reach out for foods that give you a sugar high. That keep luring you back for more.
Needless to say, this makes it extremely difficult if you are on a detox plan, whether to lose weight or for all-over wellness.
3) You can choose the healthy options
Don’t just tell yourself that it is ok to eat unhealthily when stressed. You do have a choice here in this matter. You just need to be extra mindful about the food you eat. You need to categorically think about what you are craving and deliberately choose a healthy replacement that would provide that boost of energy your body craves while still hitting that sweet spot for those stressed out and frazzled taste buds. This way, your weight loss and wellness journey won’t be totally destroyed when you are on a bingey, comfort eating warpath.
We have gathered some excellent healthy snack replacement ideas for you, so have a look:
– Instead of ice-cream, have some sorbet.
Equally cold and calming but not as chock-full as fat from the dairy and added sugar, a fruit sorbet would make an amazing replacement for those ice-cream cravings.
– Instead of a candy chocolate bar, have a bar of high quality dark chocolate.
Chocolate is unreservedly many people’s go-to when they are stressed out. Be selective about the chocolate you eat. Find a quality dark chocolate with a higher cocoa content for that endorphin kick and all the benefits of chocolate without the hazards of candy additives.
– Instead of a rich cake, have some whole-wheat scones with high fruit content jam.
Cake and pastries are so delicious, especially when you are upset. In a similar vein, why not slather some high fruit content jam on a hot, toasty whole-wheat scone or muffin? It is equally comforting but with less preservatives and artificial sugar, and a higher glycemic index from the whole-wheat flour so you won’t overstuff yourself.
– Last but not least, choose a relaxing tea instead of a sugary drink.
We recommend a soothing and calming cup of tea to go along. We have a great range of relaxing teas here at Cheryl W, such as Ginger Champagne, Dark Plum and Rooibos – all choices that will cleanse your palette and relax you further with their gentle aroma and natural ingredients.