We all are aware that there’s a stigma around mental illnesses and eating disorders. Serious subjects like this are often overlooked and judged by others who haven’t had enough information about the subject. We’ve all experienced symptoms of these disorders and can at least relate on that level. I’m here to try and give you a real life truth about stress eating, or sometimes referred to as emotional eating. No, I haven’t been diagnosed with the disorder, but be it official or not, it’s just as real to me and impacts my day to day life.
Sometimes when people relieve stress they go for runs, take showers, listen to music, etc. Sometimes when I’m stressed I do all of those things, but mostly I eat.
I’m sitting at my desk in my 10ft wide dorm room, headphones in world out, studying my brains out for a psychology test I have that next morning worth 30% of my grade. I click open my phone and realize its 11pm, slightly past when I told myself I should be done cramming, then I realize I forgot to study an entire chapter. Shit. Immediately my reaction is a craving. Throwing things left and right out of my pantry, I began searching for something to occupy my mind. I noticed a twist tied family size bag of Reeses Pieces I’d been saving for a moment exactly like this one, and the binge took over. It isn’t just a handful, it’s half the bag, followed by a fruit roll up, and a chocolate milk to chase it down. Now 5 minutes post, I sit there sulking and regretting. Oh. My. God. How did I just let myself eat all of that. Absolutely disgusted with myself, I now focus my stress onto the fact that I just ate an unreal amount of calories after 11pm, when I wasn’t even hungry. That’s how easy it is for stress to take control over my life decisions, like what I put into my body for fuel.
I hate to make this comparison, but the binge of stress eating is similar to the fix of alcohol dependency. I allow my stress to be compromised by another substance. I use it as a distraction, but in itself it creates another issue. Alcohol dependence vs. gaining weight/the possibility of it leading to an eating disorder. Heart to heart, I’ve never binge and purged, but the idea of it has crossed my mind more than a handful of times. ALL times that I’ve been eating to cover up stress. Having had that binge experience, it’s easy to see how quickly it could become a bulimic episode. We all do something to cope with stress, but stress eating leads to obesity and even the scary possibility of eating disorders.
Moral of the story, if you’ve experience emotional eating, you’re not alone. Also, next time you think it’s funny to laugh at someone for being over weight, or for someone who’s experiencing a binge, realize that this may be their fix. Everyone is fighting their own battles and you have no right to judge them. Let’s all just be good people.