Have you ever noticed that when you’re feeling the most stressed, often you want to eat more? Worse, you crave things that you know aren’t healthy for you, like candy bars, cookies, soda or coffee. You know that, if you indulge, not only won’t you feel better, but it will likely make you feel worse. Still, though, you have a strong desire to do it.
The reason this happens is, stress is a result of your subconscious mind thinking that whatever has triggered the stress is something much worse. Instead of perceiving the triggering event to be what it is, the deepest part of your subconscious mind -- your primitive mind -- thinks that you are in immediate danger of losing your life, and you’d better do something right now to save yourself.
Sounds unreasonable and illogical, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, your subconscious mind doesn’t care if something is logical or reasonable, it only cares about keeping you alive at all costs, and it thinks it has to do that when you're stressed. Having to run or fight to save your very life would require a lot of energy. Chances are good that, at any given moment, you won’t have that level of energy available to you, so, your subconscious creates the desire for you to take in foods or drinks that will give you the burst of energy that you would need, and it's usually those with lots of calories or caffeine.
The drawback is that, when you're only stressed, you won’t have the opportunity to make use of the extra energy, because you’re not really in danger, so you don’t have to run or fight. Thus, you simply wind up feeling overly-full or sluggish from sugar or maybe even jittery from the extra, unused energy.
Simply knowing why you have the desire to stress eat maybe helpful in making the choice not to, but, likely, the urge will remain. The subconscious is very persistent. It doesn’t like to give up.
An effective way to help the moment pass without giving in to stress eating would be, first, to acknowledge what’s really happening (something has triggered stress), and then to take several long, slow, deep breaths, imagining that you’re drawing the breaths down to the bottom of your abdomen, just below your navel. This deep breathing technique counteracts the fight or flight mechanism that’s at the heart of this circumstance. Next time you’re stressed, give it a try.