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Jude's avatar

Why is it that when we're stressed out, we overeat?

Asked by Jude (32134points) January 25th, 2012

I just inhaled two butter tarts.

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20 Answers

tedibear's avatar

For me, it’s about comfort. Especially those lovely simple carbs like white toast, cookies and white rice. And I may have to add butter tarts to that list. Sounds yummy! It has been a long road to get away from emotional eating and I have gotten better about it. There are days though that my hands are in the comfort food before I even realize it.

6rant6's avatar

Eating, sex, and exercise all cause endorphins to be released which give us a feeling of well being. Obviously sex isn’t always an option and exercise is SO MUCH WORK, so it’s on to the tarts.

serenade's avatar

There’s an article on Art of Manliness about willpower, which more or less says it is connected to a hormone that is available in a finite amount in a given day. Once it is depleted, your ability to stave off cravings is compromised. Stress depletes the hormone. I’m probably oversimplifying, but that’s the gist.

marinelife's avatar

Not everyone does. I do though. I think it is an effort to feel better.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I think a lot of it is if each specific person identifies eating as a way to deal with stress. Now, there are certain mechanisms that happen when we eat, where we dissociate a bit more, which supposedly was a way for humans to make sure they got enough to eat when food wasn’t so plentiful. If you just tune out for 20 minutes and inhale stuff, well, then the chances of that food being taken away from you because you dawdled in eating are lowered. But then a lot of us sort of realize that eating = mild dissociation, so when we need to get away from the stress and take a break (ie, mildly dissociate), and we know that eating will do just that, we routinely turn to food as a way to cope with stress. Is this making sense? I feel like that went in circles and yet was really unclear… Maybe I need to hunker down with some food.

cookieman's avatar

For some reason, I was on my last nerve this afternoon – then my daughter handed me a bag of Pepridge Farm Chocolate Graham Fishies!!

aaaaaahhhhhh. all better.

Jeruba's avatar

When we’re stressed out, we tend to do something to relieve the stress. For some that’s overeating, but not for all. I used to lose my appetite. Unfortunately it’s been too long since I was stressed enough to drop a few pounds.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Don’t know, seems to have a calming effect on the brain, just did so myself and feel as though all that sugar and fat have dissolved the nerves! But I am so so sorry they add the pounds.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

Just like many drugs, the combination of sugar, salts, and fats raise dopamine levels in the brain, causing a rewarding, calming feeling.
Pay attention to what most obese people eat… it is usually a combination of sugar, salts, and fats. That is their drug.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Most of the foods emotional eaters go to when stressed release Serotonin. Serotonin is the chemical that regulates emotions.

YARNLADY's avatar

Uhhhh, for me it is exactly the opposite. When I am really stressed I lose my appetite.

mazingerz88's avatar

Because it is the all time greatest excuse to eat? Lol.

JLeslie's avatar

When I was younger I never ate as a way to deal with stress, it wasn’t until my 30’s. I realy think the process of thinking about what to eat, preparing the food, eating the food, even time spent talking to ourselves about how we should not be eating the extra calories, or negotiating with ourselves about how we will make up for it tomorrow with a healthy meal occupies our mind from what we are rumenating about. The distraction is very welcome. Plus, when we fill up I think happy chemicals are released in our brain, and when we overeat there is almost a drunken spacey feeling for a lot of people. I think it is probably what the carb coma is.

In summary, I think the biggest driver is food is avoiding the problem at hand, and it can also have nice reminders of childhood pleasures too.

Coloma's avatar

—-Haha..too funny! I am not particularily stressed right now, but, got home late and guess what, coconut cookies and milk while fluthering. lol—

smilingheart1's avatar

Stress, fatigue or boredom for many people produce a hand to mouth action. When extra tired and no opportunity to snooze one tries to respond to the true need with what is available which often is caffeine and food. Stress for some produces a panicky out of control feeling that takes us back to the oldest instinct which is comfort. No mama or her milk around obviously so react with primal need of stuffing things in. Like stress cigs, there is no enjoyment here; it is more a self punishment as in the tarts story.

Esedess's avatar

I’m the exact opposite… When I’m stressed out, I don’t eat at all. I lost way too much weight one time when I was laid off looking for work for 3 months.

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

What’s a butter tart?
I guess it’s a reaction to having to deal with something. There is a whole website dedicated to stress eating
I personally don’t stress eat. I’m usually thinking about things too much to eat. Right now I’m currently stressed about several things and I haven’t eaten an actual meal in three days…I just realized after I typed that.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I’m the opposite, if I’m stressed or sad then I feel bothered to eat properly.

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