Dangers of Stress Eating or ‘Comfort Foods’

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comfort foods

Hello there. How is the week going? Are you practising healthy eating habits?

Well, today, I am writing on an interesting topic. Anyone heard of ‘Comfort foods’?

Have you ever turned to food for comfort anytime you are stressed or unhappy? A lot of women do this. Comfort foods are generally eaten during periods of stress or anxiety and so could be called stress eating.

But is ‘Comfort food’ really comforting?

THE DANGERS

A study conducted at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center has shown that women who ate a helping of comfort food the day after a single stressful event could gain, on average, 11 pounds each and every year.

Stress eating gives the illusion of making you feel better, which is only a very temporary feeling. One later feels guilty, leading to more anxiety and stress. Stress eating can soon turn into a vicious cycle, leading to guilt or putting on of weight and this, in turn, leads to more stress and other possible health problems.

Human Interaction with Comfort Foods

Humans are regularly exposed to pleasurable foods. Some people use food as a way to relieve stress and counter negative emotional states, whilst others do not. In people who strictly control their food intake (restrained eater or dieter), stress can override their conscious control, leading to overeating of ‘restricted foods’. There are also differences in people’s ability to differentiate between hunger and other unpleasant internal states like stress.

Foods we turn to for comfort

  • Coffee
  • Fatty foods
  • Spaghetti and meatballs
  • Cheeseburgers
  • Sweets
  • Cake
  • Pie
  • Pastries
  • Ice cream

Some of the reasons why we turn to these foods are

  • We want an energy boost
  • We usually want them to calm us down
  • And we want to feel happy

Comfort eating can start as an occasional treat, but it can turn to a vicious habit if not watched.

WHAT TO DO

Once you realise that your comfort eating has turned into a habit you will be able to start to do something about breaking it.

There are several ways you can do this.

  • Don’t have your comfort foods available in the home. I.e. if you know that when you do comfort eat it is usually something sweet like cake or savoury like crisps then don’t have them available in the home all the time.
  • Use the pause method. When you find yourself just about to indulge in stress eating, stop and ask yourself these questions first;
    Is this good for me, Will this nourish my body and Is it worth just a few moments of pleasure?
  • Replace your bad habit with something else which will be better for you and have this thing available at all times.

So, next time you feel like turning to ‘Comfort food’, Pause!!!

Till next time.

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REFERENCES

Torres A & Nowson C (2007). Relationships between stress, eating behaviour and obesity. 

Dallman MF (2010). Stress-induced obesity and the emotional nervous system.

We love to see you healthy, happy and live long.

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