What is Stress Eating?
Stress eating means eating to reduce and/or cope with stress. Sometimes, stress eating may be related to or simply another form of emotional eating.
How Mindfulness Can Stop Stress Eating
The more you practice mindfulness, the more your stress will diminish, allowing you to taste even deeper states of calm. Mindfulness is calming for both body and mind because it interrupts the cycle of stress that is tied to compulsive or negative thinking. This kind of thinking is often part of a vicious cycle of stress, in which the body’s stress, itself a consequence of compulsive thinking, feeds back to create more stressful thoughts, which then feed back to create even more stress in the body.
Mindfulness reverses this pattern, reducing both mental and bodily stress. As a result, stress eating diminishes.
The Stress Eating Solution of Mindfulness – Exploring the Research
In a study, mice under chronic stress who were fed a diet high in fat and sugar gained twice as much weight as non-stressed mice on the same diet.1
Another study showed that under high levels of stress, both men and women leaned towards a higher fat diet, and less frequent exercise.2
Because mindfulness is a powerful method of stress reduction, it is likely to be intimately linked to healthier food choices, predisposition to exercise, and weight loss.
1Kuo, L., et al. (2007) Neuropeptide Y acts directly in the periphery on fat tissue and mediates stress-induced obesity and metabolic syndrome. Nature Medicine 13: 803-11.
2Ng, D.M., et al. (2003) Relationships between perceived stress and health behaviors in a sample of working adults. Health Psychology 22(6): 638-42.