Obesity is a major problem in the United States. The US is the only developed country on earth to be on the list of the 20 most obese countries. We pay a lot of attention to obvious lifestyle contributors to the obesity epidemic. However, some factors go almost completely unnoticed. One of these issues is comfort eating. Comfort eating is the phenomenon when people eat as a way of coping with stress and anxiety. This may sound perplexing and even ridiculous too many people. Unfortunately, it is far more common than you might think.
Comfort Eating is a Shockingly Common Problem
The American Psychological Association has done quite a bit of research on the practice of comfort eating. They have found that 27% of people over the age of 18 report overeating as a way of managing stress. Over a third of people that admit to this behavior have stated that it is a common habit. Comfort eating clearly plays a significant role in the growing obesity epidemic. Adults that want to lose weight need to come to terms with their tendency to turn to food as a stress management treatment. It is also important to identify people that are most prone to engage in this practice, so they can be more self-aware of these problems. A few years ago, I recall coming across an article that talked about comfort eating tendencies among Christian adults. This article stated that Christians were more likely to engage in comfort eating then nonreligious people, because they we’re not as likely to turn to other vices such as alcohol or drugs. This article suggested that this could explain obesity problems being more prevalent among practicing Christians.
How to prevent the consequences of comfort eating
As with any health issue, the first step towards treatment is acknowledging the problem. Many adults are in denial about the fact that they use overeating as a strategy to deal with stress. They can’t break the cycle until they identify this problem. The second issue is to acknowledge that overeating can often contribute to the underlying stress they face. This in turn leads to a self-reinforcing cycle of bad habits. Why would this happen? Overeating causes a lot of issues that make stress worse. People become worried about health problems that they are suffering from. They feel more lethargic at work, which hinders their performance and causes workplace issues. They become more self-conscious about their bodies and have difficulty with romantic relationships. All of these issues and up causing more stress. If people use comfort eating as their coping strategy, then these problems will inevitably just get worse. Once these issues have been acknowledged, it is time to start taking action. Comfort eaters will need to start finding more constructive ways to manage their stress. Exercising is proven to be far more effective than most other stress management techniques. In fact, 20 minutes of exercising is as affective as an anti-anxiety pill without all of the side effects. Once these issues have been acknowledged, it is time to start taking action. Comfort eaters will need to start finding more constructive ways to manage their stress and use natural ways to suppress your appetite. Exercising is proven to be far more effective than most other stress management techniques. In fact, 20 minutes of exercising is as effective as an anti-anxiety pill without all of the side effects. If comfort eating is still an issue, it is a good idea to find low-calorie, healthy foods that can minimize the consequences. Instead of chowing down on M&Ms, it might be better to eat a piece of celery.
Keep the problems overeating causes in check
Overeating is an unfortunately common way to deal with stress in our lives. Unfortunately, the psychological benefits are short-lived. The long-term consequences of comfort eating include worsened stress, obesity and a myriad of other health problems. People should resist the urge to overeat as much as possible. There are much healthier ways of dealing with stress. You should consider them to help minimize the health issues you are facing.