(WellnessPursuits.com) – When you find yourself feeling more depressed than usual, do you gravitate to binging on sugary, processed foods? These two things could be more connected than you think. Let’s take a closer look at the link between diet and depression.
Stress Can Lead to Binge Eating
Stress can cause cortisol levels to rise, which may cause our bodies to crave carbohydrates in order to regulate our hormone levels. Carbohydrates tend to contain fat and sugar or fat and salt. These foods help raise the body’s “feel-good” neurotransmitters, such as serotonin. This gives us a calm, relaxed and sometimes even euphoric-like feeling.
Binge Eating Can Lead to Depression
Binge eating may cause changes in blood sugar, insulin and other hormones, which might affect mood and behavior. These hormonal changes might also affect cortisol, which may cause further binge eating, thus reinforcing the cycle.
While binge eating might temporarily reduce your stress, it may also cause you to crave more sugar and fat — leading to binge eating over a longer period of time. Our brains are wired to want to achieve the same “feel good” effect, so we will crave more of the same unhealthy foods in order to get it.
People who are prone to depression are also more likely to experience binge eating. In fact, about 50% of people who binge eat suffer from a mood disorder like depression. This might be because they’re more likely to experience addictive behaviors.
How to Stop Binge Eating
There are a number of steps you might take to try to break this unhealthy habit and get back to a healthier, happier place. Here are some tips:
- Keep healthy snacks available. The best way to stop yourself from binge eating unhealthy processed foods is to avoid buying them in the first place. Keep snacks like healthy proteins, fruits and vegetables on hand.
- Note the time of day. If your hunger cravings seem to strike at a certain time of day, try to figure out other ways to relieve stress, like meditation or calling a friend.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking water can help reduce your hunger and nip cravings in the bud.
- Follow a high-fiber diet. Research has found that fiber can help make you feel fuller and curb your cravings.
- Avoid skipping meals, including breakfast. Sticking to a regular eating schedule can help reduce your risk of binge eating.
If none of these strategies work and you feel like binge eating has taken over your life, it might be time to seek professional help. Some people may require therapy and/or medications in order to help them overcome the problem.
It can be easy to turn to binge eating to help reduce your stress levels, but it can lead to a vicious long-term cycle of binging and depression. So, the next time a craving strikes, put the cookies down and go for a walk or call a friend instead. If you’re already stuck in a binge eating cycle, know that there are steps you can take to overcome the problem.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Pursuits!
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