1. What are the common stressors in your life?

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2. Rate how you feel after taking any meal or snacking (the result can be multiple if you feel differently after eating each time)

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3. Rate what you feel before taking any meal or snacking (the result can be multiple if you feel differently before eating each time)

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4. If stressed, what do you prefer eating?

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5. What kind of environment do you keep yourself in when stressed? (there can be multiple ways of what you surround yourself with)

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Result



Thank you for trusting us. Your stress levels are {common_stressors_logic}. Your emotions after eating are {after_eating_logic}, while before eating, it’s {before_eating_logic}. That’s important to remember! The foods you reach out for, when emotional, are currently {prefer_eating_logic}. And the environment you choose for yourself, when stressed, is {environment_logic}. All these factors show that you {total_logic} based on Total Score.


So, what now? You can consult our trusted experts for more guidance, join our exclusive community for personalised attention & support system, or write to us in case you have any more questions, and want us to customise a plan for you. **
Scroll below for understanding more about stress eating, and what you can do to have a healthy relationship with food. Remember, it is not just about WHAT you eat, but HOW you eat it.



What you can do next:
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When the intake of food is directed by emotions, like depression, loneliness, stress or even as a reward, we refer to it as emotional eating. A large part of this is stress eating where a person indulges in mindless eating to either soothe or avoid stress. However, this does more harm than good. Yes, it does provide a temporary relief but also starts a cycle where every time you are stressed, you rely on food and in absence of the kind of food you are looking for, the stress usually worsens. Along with this, it causes issues like overeating, bloating, nausea, weight gain, etc. in a recent study, “Weight status moderates stress-eating in the absence of hunger associations in children”, its authors said that “children with overweight engaged in more EAH as observed anxiety increased, whereas children without overweight engaged in less EAH (eating in absence of hunger) as observed anxiety increased”. This consequently causes an increase in weight and related cardiovascular disorders later in life.


When a person is experiencing an emotional stress, it might be difficult to point out whether the eating pattern is because of actual hunger or stress. Being able to differentiate between the two is an important management technique when it comes to stress eating. Ask yourself the following questions whenever you have the urge to eat something:


a. How hungry am I?

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For this, you can use the hunger scale (given ahead). If you are anywhere between 1 to 5, its actual hunger. After this, if you feel the urge to eat, it's mostly a sign of emotional eating. Here, you can choose to have some nuts, a fruit or just a hot cup of tea.


b. How quickly did the hunger escalate?


In emotional eating, your mind starts thinking about food and starts a string of thoughts. You might notice that your mind wanders from one kind of craving to another and in a short span of time, you start feeling very hungry. However, when you are actually hungry, the process is more gradual. You will start by feeling a little empty and the uncomfortable kind of hunger will begin much later.


c. Do I have distractions around me? Or, am I currently bored?


When you have distractions around you, like a cupboard full of candies, right in front of you, you are more likely to indulge in emotional eating. The sight of candies will keep giving you the cue to start eating and the mind will remind you of the feeling of satisfaction that you feel after having those candies. This will encourage you to go pick up a candy and provide yourself a temporary relief. Secondly, when you are watching tv or going for a long drive, you eat mindlessly without giving your hunger cues a thought. However, in physical hunger, the screen in front of you will not direct you to eat something endlessly. If you find yourself eating whenever you are bored, it is a probable sign of emotional hunger.


d. Do I want something specific?

When you eat emotionally, you let your emotions dictate the kind of food you want. Like it was said earlier, your mind will wander from one kind of food to another. In most cases, you eat as much as you can depending upon your cravings and then the feelings of nausea set in. for a time when you are physically hungry, you might have your choices about what you want to eat but it will not be as specific or as articulate as when you eat emotionally.


e. Have I felt guilty in the past after indulging in such a behaviour?

If you have this pattern of emotional eating, it is very common to feel guilty or regret eating large amounts of food because of emotional reasons. If you think that you are repeating this pattern, stop right there and indulge in some other activities that will help you deal with your stress better. This does not happen in physical hunger because you are aware of the positive health impacts of eating the right kind of food.


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Before we move further, let us understand what exactly is stress eating and why do we so commonly feel this urge. The science behind this is:
When the nervous system detects stress, it signals the adrenal gland to release adrenaline. This adrenaline (or epinephrine) hormone stimulates the fight or flight response. This causes the person to stop eating, when the stress is short term. When the stress persits, the adrenal glands secrete cortisol and increase the appetite and the motivation of the person to eat. According to one hypothesis, the reason we choose sugary foods in times of stress is because it provides the body with instant energy to fight or flight, according to the needs.
Another reason why we stress eating, according to the authors of the study, “Care vs Food as an Emotional Regulation Strategy in Elementary School Children: The Role of the Attachment Style”, is because children who have an insecure attachment style tend to find comfort in food more than care. This was not true in case of securely and ambivalently attached children. Therefore, the kind of caregiving practice that you were exposed to as a child will have a major influence on the kind of comfort you seek and the source of that comfort.
Graduate student Gizem Altheimer and professor of psychology and founder of the Emotion, Brain, and Behavior Laboratory at Tufts, Heather L. Urry, PhD says that the entire concept of emotional eating is a learned behavior. In “The Stress-Diet Connection”, the Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter it is mentioned that the kind of comfort food we resort to in times of stress is related to the kind of childhood memories we have. This means that we will choose those foods that have some memory attached to it.

Earlier in the article we talked about something called the hunger scale. Let us understand what we mean by this. Hunger scale is a tool that is used to detect how hungry you are on a scale from one to ten with each scale denoting a particular kind of stomach fullness or emptiness. This tool comes in handy when you have difficulties controlling the amount of food you take. In stress eating particularly, this will help you differentiate between actual physical hunger and an emotional one.


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Try reaching out for 6/7 because that will ensure that you have the optimum amount of energy to work without feeling uncomfortable.

Hunger scale is a very useful tool while managing emotional eating. Another useful practice is what is called intuitive eating. What do we understand by intuitive eating? In simple terms, this means that you understand your body’s intuition to stop eating. Take and understand the cues over the time that your body is giving you to stop eating. This is important because it helps you prevent overstuffing and its related issues. When you feel like eating under situations of distress, listen to the signals that your body is giving. Trust your instincts when they tell you not to eat because physically, you are full. When you start understanding the language in which your body tells you that you are not physically hungry, you will realise that there are other ways too in which you can deal with your emotions. For example, going on a walk. To aid intuitive eating, couple it with things like mindful eating. Here, you eat mindfully with no distractions around you so that you are aware about what you are eating and how much more or less you need to eat. According to research, when people are exposed to nature, their power to restore their happiness in times of distress increases. This means that if you eat mindfully by listening to your intuitions and expose your senses to nature, you are better equipped to handle your emotions.

Tackling emotional eating can be difficult. It can be difficult to regulate your emotions in the right direction and not in the easy one. Some ways of doing so are:

a. Going out for a walk or run or engaging in any kind of physical activity: this will help you channelise the flight and fight response constructively. It will also give you time to think about ways to deal with the stress
b. Keep a food log: on a daily basis write when do you eat what or when do you feel the urge to eat what. This will help you understand what your hunger and meal schedule is. So, the next time you feel like eating something, you will be able to understand whether or not you are actually hungry.
c. Try to identify your stressors: when you know the kind of things that stress you out, if you can’t avoid it, think of some way to deal with it if it's very common. You will be better equipped to handle yourself when you know what stresses you out and not resort to temporary things like eating.
d. Stock less: when you know that you have the tendency to eat emotionally, try not to stock much on things that give you comfort. You can keep some of it for extreme situations but do not keep large amounts of it. Also, use coloured containers to store them and do not keep them in direct vision. This will only keep tempting you to eat more of it.
e. Follow dietary practices: as mentioned above, using a hunger scale and following practices like intuitive eating and mindful eating will help you understand when you feel like stress eating. When you do so, engage yourself in other activities.
f. Build up on hobbies: you stress eat because you like eating your favourite food in times of distress. Instead of eating, engage yourself in other activities that you like, for example gardening, singing, reading, dancing, etc.

If you still feel that you are not able to control what you eat, try choosing any of the following nutrient rich foods because they help you calm your brain, provide the right kind of nutrients and reduce the overall stress the body is experiencing:
a. Complex carbohydrates: oats, banana, potato, pulses, cabbage, seeds
b. Vitamin c: orange, bell peppers, cherry, kiwi, mango, broccoli, lettuce, spinach
c. Magnesium: seeds, nuts
salmon, tuna, soyabean, fenugreek leaves and seeds, canola, wheat, walnuts, flaxseeds
e. Vitamin k: cabbage, spinach, broccoli, peas, cauliflower
f. Tea is also a food item that can help you relax

Emotional eating is an unhealthy habit. That being said, it is okay to take time to overcome this. Don't force your body to take drastic steps at once. This is a gradual process and everyone will take varied amounts of time to get over this. However, even if you cannot get a 100% out of it, even a 50% difference is huge. So, start the process to improve your overall health and give yourself and your body some time.