Have you ever noticed that when someone goes through a stressful situation that there is a tendency to overeat or not eat enough? Maybe it’s the loss of a loved one, a car accident, a serious health condition, or some other stressful experience. All of these things can affect not just a person’s mental state but also what they eat and how they eat.
Eating More Than Usual
Stress can easily cause overeating, though that won’t happen for everybody who’s feeling stressed. Food can become a comfort that people go to when they don’t feel well, either physically or emotionally. It’s easy to eat too much and justify the change in diet because of the situation someone is going through. They may tell themselves “Once I feel better, I’ll stop eating like this.” But what’s dangerous is that they can develop habits that are very hard to break by overeating during stressful situations. It’s not uncommon for someone to sit down with a tub of ice cream or a bag of chips and go through the whole thing in one sitting when they are dealing with a difficult situation. The stress of what they are going through can make them feel almost like shutting down, and food can give them something to do to get their mind off of their problem and can provide some comfort and happiness for a short time. While this kind of stress eating can be okay from time to time, it’s not something that you will want to develop into a habit.
Eating Less Than Usual
On the other end of the spectrum are the people who tend not to eat when they are stressed. They may feel like they have no appetite or that they might not be able to keep the food down. Stress affects people in different ways, and for some, they can make their stomach upset, like their intestines are being tied in knots. In those situations, they may not eat anything at all while they feel stressed. Some of this comes down to survival instincts, where the body minimizes hunger cravings when it feels threatened. That’s simply a natural reaction for some people when they are feeling stressed. What’s dangerous about this effect of stress on the diet is that it can lead to long periods where a person is hardly eating anything at all. They can start to lose muscle mass and lack essential vitamins and nutrients. That can open up their body to all sorts of health problems, weakening their immune system and making them more prone to illness and disease. They will also be less likely to handle their stress effectively if their body is weak.
Eating Different Foods Than before
What you might also find when someone is stressed is that they are prone to eat foods that they normally might not. They may start to have cravings that are unusual for them, or the cravings they normally have can become much stronger. In times of stress, a lot of people turn to comfort foods. These are often foods that are not very healthy but are okay to eat in small quantities. Stressed individuals may binge on snack foods, greasy or fried foods, desserts, alcohol, and other foods and beverages that are not doing their body any favors. This can make them more stressed, as dieting can affect the health of the body, changing hormone levels, increasing blood pressure, affecting blood sugar, and causing other complications. In other words, the food that’s being used to cope with the stress can actually heighten and worsen with stress that someone feels.
Useful Ways to Minimize Stress
What are some things you can do to decrease the stress in your life? It’s simple enough to say that you can deal with the problem that’s causing the stress in the first place, but that’s not always possible. If the stress is being caused by the loss of a loved one or the effects of a traffic accident, these aren’t things that you can simply get over. The emotions you feel are not something that can be turned off, many times. So, stress is a natural byproduct of the grieving process, the recovery process, and the way in which people navigate serious problems in their life.
Here are some changes you can make to your lifestyle in your environment that can help to reduce stress:
- Make a conscious effort to eat healthier, buying foods that will be good for you and give you nutritional value. This can boost your mood and reduce stress.
- Keep a clean home. An untidy home can cause stress, and you may not have time or energy to clean your home for yourself, so you can hire a professional cleaner in new york city to do that instead.
- Spend time outdoors. This will give your body fresh air and an improved mood, hormone levels, and blood oxygen levels. Taking time to go for a walk, taking in the view outdoors, or just being out in the fresh air are all really good for your health and your mood.
- Spend time with animals. Taking care of an animal or just spending time with one can increase mood boosting hormones in the body. You can feel better just by being in close proximity to animals, and interacting with them can increase those levels even more.
- Talk to someone about your problems. It can be helpful to speak to a professional about what you’re going through, but even if you don’t want to go with that option, talking to friends can be helpful too.
Stress has been called what we allow ourselves to feel when going through a situation. It is something you can control, and while that may not seem true all the time, there are definitely ways you can reduce the amount of stress in your life. Some people have a lot of difficulty in controlling their stress levels, but by making some lifestyle changes, we should find that your stress is more manageable and their diet can get under control.