Adolescents (Age group 10 to 19 years) today are very stressed and tired because of the vast academic pressure and innumerable extracurricular activity classes which parents force upon them. The mental stress is reflected in their food habits as well, where junk food/quick food/sugar based items is their savior in this fast paced competitive world. This results in children falling prey to stress eating.
What Is Stress Eating?
Stress eating is also referred to as Emotional eating. In this kind of eating, we try satiating ourselves emotionally rather than physically. Many times, we are not even hungry, but we consume food for emotional/feel good reasons. Food like burgers, pizzas, pastas, desserts, sweets and chocolates being high in carbohydrates may momentarily satisfy our emotional cravings.
Problems Stemming From Stress Eating
When left untreated, stress eating leads to Behavioral and Health problems:
Food is used as a means to solve problems. It can be induced due to fear, stress, loneliness, peer and performance pressure which leaves children especially adolescents emotionally disturbed. It causes anxiety, sleep disorders, increased appetite etc. Hunger signals are sent to the brain due to increase in cortisol (stress hormone) in the body.
Obesity is caused due to stress eating. Health problems related to overeating and also heart problems and diabetes are seen in children who suffer from stress eating. It also leads to digestive problems, risk of depression, increase in blood pressure etc. at a very young age.
Stress Eating can be easily combated by making positive changes in our life style. Having a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products and snacking on nuts can take us on the healthy eating path. Having adequate amount of sleep keeps children fresh. Enjoying physical and mental activities with friends keeps them emotionally and physically fit as it induces a positive feeling in the body. Yoga, meditation or a hobby or sports which the child enjoys should be pursued. Turning off the TV/ Mobiles/Tablets or any unhealthy distraction is a must especially during meal timings.
Small and mindful steps can prevent our adolescents from stress eating and in turn makes them more efficient and prolific in life. It paves a path for a healthy and nutritious future with clean and nourishing eating habits.