I’m a Stress Eater – Does That Mean I Have an Eating Disorder?

  • Posted at Aug 23, 2022
  • Written by Rebecca
I’m a Stress Eater – Does That Mean I Have an Eating Disorder?

Having and maintaining a healthy diet and eating behaviors can be challenging. But, for people who deal with stress, it can be even more difficult. For many people who live with high levels of stress, eating can be a method of attempting to control their stress. Stress eating is a method of eating in order to gain control of stress and alleviate the negative effects of unwanted emotions. But, many people who call themselves a “stress eater” may be wondering if they are living with an eating disorder.

Is Stress Eating an Eating Disorder?

Stress eating is a method of attempting to control or numb emotions by eating. It’s an unhealthy coping mechanism because it can lead to a number of negative side effects. However, just eating when one is stressed does not signify the presence of an eating disorder. Rather, eating disorders are characterized by using disordered eating behaviors as a means to adjust one’s own appearance. And, people with eating disorders often struggle with self-esteem, self-love, and self-compassion. These are not typical symptoms associated with stress eating (while they can be).

Although, stress eating may lead to the development of eating disorders. And, stress eaters may be living with other symptoms associated with eating disorders. So, people who consider themselves stress eaters may benefit from eating disorder treatment. This way, they can learn to cope with negative emotions without using eating as a coping mechanism. And, instill healthier coping skills in their lives in order to manage negative thoughts and emotions.

The Relationship Between Eating and Stress

Stress is a normal part of being a human. It’s an emotion we experience to keep us from being in danger. It may come up as the result of life changes, relationship issues, health issues, and more. However, stress can become an issue when it negatively affects a person’s life or comes about even when a person isn’t in danger or dealing with stressful circumstances.

Many people may use eating as a way to distract themselves from how they feel. Or, to comfort themselves when they’re feeling stressed out. But, when one reaches for food in order to manage stress too often, it can develop as a habit. And, one that a person can learn to depend upon, which can be an issue. When a person needs to eat to feel comforted and to deal with unwanted emotions, this can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food that’s not balanced. Rather, individuals should learn to utilize healthy coping mechanisms in order to manage unwanted emotions. This way, food isn’t something that is used to manage emotions, but something that is used to fuel the body.

Getting Help With Disordered Eating as a Stress Eater

Do you feel that stress eating is negatively affecting your life? Or, do you feel that you are unable to manage your unhealthy emotions without eating? This may be a sign that stress eating has become a disordered eating behavior in your life. Fortunately, help is available. Yellowbrick offers an eating disorder program for people living with disordered eating behaviors. Find out more about our outpatient eating disorder program from our website today.

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