Stress Eating or Skipping Meals? 3 Things You Must Know

Stress Eating or Skipping Meals? 3 Things You Must Know

Have you ever noticed your pattern of eating? How many times you eat in a day and how much? And do you feel hungry before you eat or that looming deadline takes away your time or the urge to grab a meal? Well, hectic schedules, raging body image issues, nervous and anxiety-driven experiences are some of the reasons affecting our daily eating habits and routine. 

While munching on food through the day or skipping meals is normalized to a great extent, but it needs special attention when things spiral out of control. And repetitive behaviours lead to eating disorders, which further affects our mental and physical well-being. Make a note of how your eating habits change with time, trying to stay in sync with a healthy lifestyle. A lot of times, anxiety issues, substance abuse or depression, alleviates eating disorders like: 

Anorexia Nervosa: It’s a condition that springs in an obsessive fear of gaining weight and a refusal to maintain a healthy weight. People facing anorexia nervosa limit their food intake, with an unrealistic perception that they are overweight, even if they are underweight which further leads to brain damage, multi-organ failure, bone loss, heart difficulties, and infertility.

Bulimia Nervosa: A condition in which is characterized by repeated binge eating, followed by forced vomiting, excessive exercise, or extreme use of laxatives or diuretics. People suffering from bulimia nervosa, have a perpetual fear of weight gain with looming anxiety and unhappiness about their body shape and size. And this can have highly injuring effects on the body, causing gastrointestinal problems, severe dehydration, and heart difficulties resulting from an electrolyte imbalance.

Binge Eating Disorder: An eating disorder, where one frequently loses control over his or her eating. There are repetitive episodes of binge eating, which later result in obesity and increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. While, totally in contrast to bulimia nervosa, there are no compensatory behaviours like fasting or forced vomiting, but lead to feelings of extreme guilt, embarrassment, and distress which further leads to binge-eating episodes trying to cope up.

For some people, extreme eating disorders are treated with cognitive behavioural therapy or medications. Whereas, taking small steps trying to get your hold back on eating habits could be a positive transformation for overall wellness. Read on to start your journey to good health with healthy eating habits, which are easy to adopt.

Here’s a list of eating habits that’ll help you combat emotional & stress eating: 

1. Eat breakfast every day : Give it a minute, and think about how many times you skip breakfast? Be it because you were late for the early morning lecture, had to reach the office on time or get on to your work. And then it results in gorging on high fat and calorie meals. Well, it's time to prioritize your morning meals. Having a wholesome breakfast decreases hunger pangs and cravings throughout the day, and gives a boost to your energy levels. Try having a fiber- and protein-rich breakfast including eggs, yogurt, oatmeal, fruit, whole wheat toast and cut back on sugary cereals, white bread, and other highly processed foods.

2. Plan your meals beforehand: In the rush of daily lives, getting on from one task to another, it’s important we plan our meals. It helps in sticking to a regular eating pattern. And also, results in more nutrient-rich meals, with improved diet quality and variety. Having more protein and fiber rich food, decreases calorie intake, increases levels of GLP-1, a hormone that can help suppress appetite and enhance feelings of fullness. For a week, try having a bowl of fresh fruits or salads, before your meals. You’ll notice a decrease in calorie intake, reduced hunger pangs and a boost in your energy levels. 

3. Hydration is the key: A well-balanced meal combined with hydration boosts metabolism and accelerates the energy level throughout the day. A study shows that drinking around 375–500 ml of water 30 minutes before a meal significantly decreased hunger and calorie intake while increasing feelings of fullness. While gulping bottles of sodas and sugary drinks gives a feeling of fulfillment, try replacing it with plain water or fruit induced water to stay hydrated and reduce the time-to-time craving for sugary and fried foods. An easy way is to sip on the water whenever you feel thirsty, keeping you well hydrated. 

4. Avoid skipping meals: There are times we skip meals or fast for long hours. And a lot of times going by the rule of fad diets that promises weight loss and clear skin, we tend to skip our meals that trigger binge-eating. Make it a rule to go by the pros and cons of a diet or consult your dietician before adopting any major diet changes. Try focusing on eating healthy food, instead of cutting back on meals completely. A 2-month survey done by the National Center for Biotechnology Information states that one large meal per day increases the blood sugar levels, and hunger-stimulating hormones, than eating three meals per day. Opt for more nutrition-rich food, especially local and fresh food, skipping on processed and high-calorie food.

5. Let stress take a backseat: Are you more likely to revert to binge-eating before an exam, facing a difficult relationship or a stress-full work situation? Well, it’s time to observe and keep a check on the trigger situations. Being self-critical, overthinking, increased feelings of shame, guilt and despair, aggravates the cravings, and binge eating on sugary or high-fat treats releases the feel-good hormones, cortisol. A good way to cope with this is to channelize your energy into physical activities, opting for meditation or other calming therapies, having a good social support system or even seeking therapy if you feel the need.  

6. Add some physical activities to your day: To keep your health on the fore, you must devote at least 30 minutes to some physical activity. Including half an hour of walking, running, swimming, biking, and playing sports are just a few different forms of physical activity that can help relieve stress and reduce anxiety, thereby calming your urge to gorge on or skip meals. If most of the time is spent at home or you can’t take out time out of the hustle and bustle of daily activities, try Yoga or meditation. Give Surya namaskar, sukhasana and other breathing exercises a try.  

By: Navreet Kaur | on 2020-09-04

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