I crave for food when stressed

What can I do to avoid craving for food whenever I am stressed or idle? Does having cravings point to any health conditions? And, how do I treat or prevent it?

Dear Doctor,

What can I do to avoid craving for food whenever I am stressed or idle? Does having cravings point to any health conditions? And, how do I treat or prevent it? Christella

Dear Christella,

For how long have you had this problem? Is it present daily or occurs intermittently?

Many people have a craving for food when depressed or sitting idle or stressed. In particularly craving is more for carbohydrate rich foods. Carbohydrates have a high content of serotonin, a mood elevating hormone. During stress or idleness, food cravings can arise from low serotonin levels as suggested by studies. Food plays a significant role in many events throughout people’s lives, from birthdays to holidays to weddings. By partaking excessively in their favorite foods, depressed individuals may be subconsciously attempting to recreate those positive feelings. Whether due to lack of sleep or a general sense of malaise, depression depletes energy. A natural reaction to ward off lethargy is to eat more food. Medical disorders like diabetes, hyperthyroidism, cause increased appetite and this may be perceived as food cravings.

Whatever the reason, food cravings will mostly lead to over eating, resulting in obesity and its health hazards. Hence it should be nipped in the bud.

Discussing feelings with a loved one can reduce feelings of despair and isolation and hence helps remove depression.. Physical activity helps reduce depression symptoms. It also improves serotonin levels. Even a ten-minute walk around the block can help. Try to keep yourself busy in creative work. This cures idleness and stress and also takes the mind off from food cravings.

Drinking lots of water, keeps the body well hydrated. It also gives a sense of fullness which avoids false hunger sensations hence the food cravings. Avoid high sugar, carbohydrate foods and processed foods. These create a sense of craving to eat more, due to increase in endorphin levels. Adequate rest and meditation are also useful.

ADVERTISEMENT