Does Stress Gnaw Away at You?

When you are feeling stressed, do you turn to food for comfort?

When things get on top of you do you turn to food to fill up that empty feeling? You’re not alone.

A study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2012, established a link between emotional and uncontrolled eating and 'occupational burnout'.

According to the study, women who are unhappy at work and are fed up with their jobs, are more likely to turn to food for stress relief. Eating when you feel stressed, unhappy, or anxious rather than when you are hungry is called emotional eating and its roots lie deep down in how you feel about yourself and your life. If your working life is not happy all sorts of emotions can well up inside you.

Do you try and deaden your emotions at work?

Think for a moment - Do you eat

  • When you feel lonely? Are your colleagues excluding you?
  • When you feel scared or anxious? Is there a new challenge you need to meet?
  • Out of frustration at not being able to express yourself? Are your ideas disregarded?
  • When you feel taken for granted? Do people assume you will do things?
  • When you feel defiant? Are you feeling angry?
  • When you feel depressed? Do you feel stuck-in-a-rut?
  • When you feel belittled? Are you being criticised?
  • When you feel rejected? Are you feeling 'pushed out'?
  • When you feel insecure? Are you worried about your position?

If you suffer and said yes to any of these the possibility is you could be eating for your emotions.

Are you 'burned out'?

The 'occupational burnout' that the study discusses is characterised by three elements:

1. Exhaustive fatigue

2. Cynicism

3. Lost occupational respect caused by chronic work stress

The results are startlingly clear

"Women experiencing burnout at baseline had significantly higher scores in emotional eating and uncontrolled eating than did those without burnout."

The conclusions?

"Those experiencing burnout may be more vulnerable to Emotional Eating and Uncontrolled Eating and have a hindered ability to make changes in their eating behaviour. We recommend that burnout should be treated first and that burnout and eating behaviour should be evaluated in obesity treatment."

Do you need help to tackle feelings of stress and unhappiness? Do you feel that you may be an emotional eater? Would like to learn how to change your eating habits? Get in touch with me for face to face sessions or look at my self help audio course to guide yourself through tackling that all-consuming, stress-related behaviour of comfort eating.

Categories: Stress, Anxiety