The Pros and Cons of Stress Eating

First of all, sorry for the missing post last Friday for the still-untitled third section of the blog. Still lacking internet. I might have to break down and start paying someone for internet again. Either that or hunt down who my landlords get (or more accurately don’t get) the internet through, and then call them every 5 minutes whenever I’m not working. The second idea is surprisingly tempting. Moving on…

This week’s food post is all about stress eating. I’m currently in that totally awesome period of time where I’m just waiting to hear back from the schools I’ve interviewed with and waiting to see if the last two schools I haven’t heard anything from will give me an interview. I also got my first rejection (from a school that I interview with). Not that much of a surprise, but the wait list would have been nice. So I’ve been bouncing back and forth from a general level of stress from waiting to a full blown WHAT THE HELL AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE!?!?! level. I’m sure most recent college grads or soon-to-be-grads can relate.

I generally deal with stress in a few ways:

  1. Extreme irritability–Much scowling and complaining here. I try to avoid it, but it happens. (My apologies to the Girlfriend)
  2. Sloth–Some people work out to deal with stress. Occasionally I do when the irritability builds up too much. But more frequently, I don’t do anything. As someone who is trying to lose weight, this usually doesn’t help things much (weight-wise or stress-wise)
  3. Eat–As long as I’m not working out, why not eat more! Because stress isn’t bad enough for one’s health on it’s own!
  4. Eat Some More–Especially sweets, resulting in a never-ending spiral of more sweets.

So, in order to convince myself more thoroughly why I should avoid stress eating, we’re going to make a pros and cons list.

Pro: Eating Makes Me Feel Better

When you’re stressed, why shouldn’t you do things that make you happy? I like eating. I can’t help it. (“It’s the genetics!” whispering in the back of my mind. Might want to get that checked out.) And it does make me feel better. Who doesn’t like cookies and milk? (I mean seriously Whole Foods, how many weeks can these cookies be on sale? You’re killing me!) I can feel the endorphins flooding my system with each bite until I hit an only slightly uncomfortable food coma.

Con: The Subsequent Self-Loathing

First, let’s be honest. I rarely stop at slightly uncomfortable and go full bore into an extremely uncomfortable food coma. Then I feel guilty about eating an entire row of cookies. Plus, I’m already not working out because of the sloth strategy so I only hate myself more. Things just keep spiraling more and more once I start stress eating.

Con: More Eating Out

An increased appetite. A crabby attitude towards cooking (see extreme irritability) and the dishes that go with it. Just wanting unhealthy food. It all adds up to ordering out more. Now I’m spending more money and eating less healthy than before.

Pro: More Eating Out

Tasty food. No dishes. No cooking. Doesn’t sound that bad actually. We’ll call it a wash for now. Ignoring the money part.

Pro: I Like Sweets

Cookies, brownies, chocolate bars (dark chocolate = healthy right!?)–I like them very much. They are delicious. No further arguments are needed.

Con: My Inability to Moderate Myself

Once a little bit of sugar enters my system, it creates an unquenchable need for sweets. It’s like a vacuum. I’m turned into a mindless, sugar-killing machine. When I was younger, I would eat an entire pan of cookie bars over the course of the day. Any time I went into the kitchen, I’d grab one or two. Eventually, I’d be making up reasons to go to the kitchen. I need something to drink. Oops, forgot my pen in the kitchen. Get back here you silly cat–oh hey, cookie bars! Then it would devolve into getting a brother to bring them back for me. Hey Aaron, I’ll give you a dollar if you bring me a cookie bar. Hey Kyle, get me a cookie bar and I might not punch you. Bam! All gone. (And Kyle probably punched.)

Things haven’t improved. You’d think without brothers to bribe or extort, it’d be a little better. But now I make the sweets. Which means I have the leftover batter or dough all to myself. Which might be worse, since I eat all the extras and then eat the cookies or brownies too. Plus the Girlfriend doesn’t put up nearly as much of a fight as my father in terms of quantity eaten. Which leads to…

Con: Increased Need to Work Out

All the bad eating and uncontrolled bingeing means, more working out. And another bad week in Baldaufs vs Genetics. As someone who doesn’t love working out, definitely a con.

Verdict: Stress Eating Is Bad

Okay, no real surprises here. But let’s be honest, this was mostly an exercise in convincing myself to stop eating so shitty. I really need to find a different stress hobby than eating. While stress eating is enjoyable and maybe even helpful in the short-term, it only creates more problem down the road. And while it is important to blow off steam once in awhile with a few cookies, an entire pan of brownies is probably a bad idea. So remember kids–Moderation!!

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