We’ve all been there, knee deep in a bag of chips or halfway through a box of cookies, trying to quell our stress with treats. Emotional eating, or stress eating, is completely common and normal. And these days, the ample number of stressors in all of our lives can kick that drive for comfort up another notch.
“Stress eating, or eating for reasons other than physiologic hunger, is not always a bad thing,” says Caroline Andrew, MD, an internal medicine physician and director of the medical weight management program at HSS. “When emotional eating becomes a problem is when we feel out of control, and when we are using food to relieve a discomfort that would be better addressed in a different way. Food often provides a temporary comfort, but then we are still left feeling anxious or stressed about the same issues as before we ate.”
First, it’s important not to be too hard on yourself for lapses in food judgment. “Try to be kind to yourself, and try to be patient,” says Dr. Andrew. “These behaviors aren’t easy to change, and they won’t change overnight. It takes time to shift them.” Blaming yourself for eating when you’re feeling stressed or emotional will just worsen your guilt, leading to more negative emotions – and potentially even more harmful eating behaviors, she adds.
Below are a few tips from Dr. Andrew for feeling more in control of your eating. However, do not hesitate in reaching out to a licensed professional if you feel you are in need of further support and guidance.
For more information, contact HSS Weight Management at 212.606.1570 or click here for their website.