Stress Eating! Pop-Culture Insights

Stress Eating on Bravo’s Shah’s of Sunset

stress-eating-strategies

On a recent episode of Bravo’s Shah’s of Sunset, Reza Farahan, a real estate professional, was giving it a go at comedy. He invited his friends to his first show at the Improv. He stress eats plates of fried food as he is waiting to go on and his friends join in. First off, I love the show and the cast, so I am not criticizing them. I commend them for being so open and honest in showing viewers a glimpse of their lives.

Stress eating can become a habit for some that can lead to obesity. I know – it happened to me.

I was at a stressful job and I would come home from work, turn the television on and eat healthy whole grain cereal. Lots of it. I was distracted by TV and phone calls, so I never really knew how much I was eating. I would follow this up with a full meal.

Within five months I had gained over 25 pounds. Imagine my surprise when a kitchen worker congratulated me by giving the thumbs up, pointing to his belly, then pointing to me and saying “ Embarazada, embarazada!” That’s pregnant in Spanish! I wasn’t embarazada, but was quite embarrassed. The stress eating had impregnated me with a full-term food baby.

Watch out for Enablers.

I have found that there are enablers to stress eating. TV is a best friend to stress eating. Friends can also be an enabler. In the Bravo episode, some of Reza’s friends are joining right in with his stress eating. Junk food that doesn’t have to be chewed much is another enabler (i.e. ice cream, cake, cookies). Enablers can be different for different people. My enablers are tv, dried fruit, crackers, and not portioning cereal.

What can you do instead?

Identifying your enablers can be quite powerful. Let friends know you are changing your habits and are hoping they can support you in this. Here are some first steps to start curbing stress eating:

  • Turn off the TV. 
  • Try not to keep food around that is tempting. 
  • Do some deep breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation. 
  • Work on not letting the stress build too much. 
  • Develop a support system. 

When I began turning off the TV while eating, working on my stress levels by leaving the job that wasn’t the right fit for me, and putting an end to the stress eating, the weight came off. I still eat healthy whole grain cereal, I just make sure I measure a portion first.