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What To Do When Anxiety Makes You Overeat

Anxiety and Overeating

Anxiety disorders are some of the most prevalent psychological conditions to affect the worldwide population. There are numerous conditions classified within this category, and the symptoms experienced by individuals affected by one of these disorders can range from mild to more severe, life-altering complications. At least 19.1% of all adults in the United States are estimated to experience symptoms associated with an anxiety disorder on an annual basis, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It is also estimated that approximately 31.1% of all adults in the country will experience symptoms associated with anxiety disorders during their lifetime. Statistics have also provided evidence that women are more likely to develop anxiety and depression, when compared to men.

Anxiety disorders  can cause a number of unpleasant complications in a patient. One particular issue that many people face when they frequently suffer from symptoms associated with anxiety is that they find themselves grabbing for the nearest bag of potato crisps, or perhaps a container of ice cream. Overeating is a relatively common problem amongst people with anxiety. When anxiety is appropriately treated, the numerous complications, including overeating, that the condition brings upon a person can be effectively managed. In this guide, we’ll take a look at how you can manage overeating caused by anxiety, and also look at how you can reduce the symptoms of anxiety, ensuring you can live a stress-free life.

Why Are You Experiencing Anxiety?

Understanding what is causing you to experience anxiety is the first step to implementing an effective treatment protocol. Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health disorders that share features of excessive fear and anxiety. There are different types of anxiety disorders – common disorders that cause anxiety include panic disorder, phobic disorders, generalized anxiety disorder and stress disorders.

These disorders and symptoms have a variety of contributing factors. Hyperthyroidism, excessive caffeine consumption, the use of amphetamines, and heart abnormalities are only a few factors that can be looked at when a person experiences frequent symptoms of anxiety.

How Anxiety Causes You to Overeat

Overeating and anxiety share a common association – people who experience anxiety are often faced with the troublesome complication of overeating. There are a number of different reasons why people overeat when they experience anxiety – in particular, many people tend to find themselves binging for “comfort food” when they feel worried, stressed, or anxious.  Feelings of tiredness, sadness, and anger can also cause many people to turn to comfort food and overeat.

Managing Overeating Caused By Anxiety

With anxiety causing overeating and binge eating in millions of individuals, the common question is – how can a person deal with anxiety and stop binge eating at the same time. There are, fortunately, a variety of effective methods that can be implemented to manage overeating, and also assist with relieving symptoms of anxiety.

The first step is to identify the emotional triggers that cause you to binge eat. Also, identify what you grab for when you start craving – determine what your “comfort foods” are. Stress is the most common factor that can cause both anxiety and cravings – the cortisol released when our bodies are placed under stress causes us to crave fatty and salty foods, as well as sugary treats. Thus, identify what is causing your stress, and then see if you can limit your exposure to these triggers.

In addition to identifying and avoiding possible triggers, there are some other strategies that can also be helpful. Practicing mindful eating, for example, can help you feel fuller and make you less likely to experience cravings. You should also practice impulse control techniques to help yourself say “no” when a craving strikes. Other strategies that may also work:

  • When a craving strikes, try drinking a glass of water before you opt for something to eat. Wait at least 15 minutes after drinking water to see if your craving subsides.
  • Try to pack some nuts in a bag when you leave for work. When you do experience a craving, skip the bag of potato chips or the chocolate bar, and opt for some nuts instead. Any healthy alternative can work.
  • When you experience anxiety, sit back and take a couple of deep breathes. This can help to clear your mind, reduce your feelings of anxiousness, and help you make better decisions when it comes to what you eat.


Anxiety is common and can cause a person to experience a large number of unpleasant complications. Overeating is a particularly problematic complication that many people experience when they suffer from anxiety. It can lead to other complications such as weight gain and increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and more. Understanding that there are ways to effectively manage the overeating caused by anxiety symptoms can help a person overcome this particular problem, as well as the numerous complications that may be caused by overeating.

If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.

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Author bio: Evlin Symon is a freelance health writer from New Jersey. She enjoys learning about a wide variety of wellness issues and staying up-to-date on the latest research. She also is the author of many active blogs. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.

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