The more stress we feel, the more the felt need for a reward or a distraction in order to feel good – a way of telling ourselves we are good or we are deserving.
These patterns can begin in childhood when we are encouraged to eat so we can grow up to be big and strong. We eat for a variety of reasons, including pleasing our parents.
[note]The more trapped you feel in your current circumstances, the more likely you are to engage in stress-related eating.[/note]
But what is our motivation now? Is there something lacking that we are trying to fill? Or some feelings that we are trying to soothe?
We use food as a substitute for nourishment and pleasure, anything to fill in where we may feel lacking.
[note] The real hunger is for unconditional acceptance, a hunger that food can never meet. [/note]
If you have stress at work, or you work in a boring, repetitive job, you are a perfect candidate for stress eating. The urge for continuous stress related eating can stave off boredom and provide temporary stress relief. Trips to the vending machine are a temporary respite from difficult or monotonous tasks.
Work stress is often chronic stress and subject to stress eating. This kind of mechanical eating is never satisfying – it’s an escape.
[note]You can never get enough of what you don’t need.[/note]
To ward off stress eating, try to find fulfillment in other areas of your life. Get out of relationships or jobs that are stressful if you can, and add more fun to your life. Build stress resilience and find other ways to combat boredom.
We all have losses and feelings of emptiness to manage (lost or failed relationships, unfilled promises, unmet expectations). Rather than making a desperate attempt to fill them with food, why not work on them directly?
While the pleasure of eating is a great gift, it’s not the only joy in life! Play and laughter go a lot further than donuts any day!
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