Program Success Barack Obama Special Edition - Page 5
What’s Eating You:
Using Food to Cope With Stress
hen life is piling on the
stress, you could find yourself piling on a few pounds. Many
people turn to eating food, usually high in fat and sugar, to help
them cope with stress. Over time,
those extra calories and fat can
lead to weight gain. Other people
do the exact opposite when faced
with stress - eating less food
than usual or skipping meals altogether.
Whether you’re eating too much
or too little, using food to help
you deal with emotions, such as
stress, may lead to poor weight
management. Here’s more information about why people often
turn to food for comfort, along
with some ideas to help curb
If you continue using food to cope with stress or if you have any other questions or concerns, talk to your health care professional. He
or she may want to ensure that you’re managing your weight safely, and if needed, may suggest professionals who can help you have
a healthier relationship with food.
FOOD AND YOUR MOOD
Studies show that eating high-fat foods may help you feel content and satisfied. However, these feelings may be short-lived - foods high in fat actually
can increase stress hormones and help keep them high.
What is the real trouble with emotional eating? Once the joy of eating fades,
the feelings that caused you to eat in the first place remain. In fact, you might
even feel worse after eating the amount or type of food that you did. That’s
why it’s important to learn the differences between physical and emotional
WHY DOES EMOTIONAL EATING OCCUR?
The link between stress and eating most likely begins in the brain. When faced
with a real threat, the body releases chemicals to help you either fight or run
away. These chemicals also help curb hunger for a short period of time. However, when faced with ongoing, long-term stress (such as health or relationship
problems), many people turn to eating high-fat, high-calorie foods for comfort.
BREAKING THE CYCLE
Breaking the cycle of emotional eating can be challenging. However, there are
many professionals you can turn to for support. These include:
• Counselors and therapists who can teach you healthier ways to deal with
• Dietitians and nutritionists who can help you make healthy food choices
• Fitness experts who can get your body’s feel-good chemicals moving
through exercise instead of food
If you continue using food to cope with stress or if you have any other ques
tions or concerns, talk to your health care professional. He or she may want
to ensure that you’re managing your weight safely, and if needed, may sug
gest professionals who can help you have a healthier relationship with food.
PHYSICAL VS EMOTIONAL HUNGER
Making a connection between eating and your feelings is not always easy. Using a journal can help. Be
sure to write down:
• What you ate