Today we battle it out. Which is worse? Overfeeding while stressed, or starving.
Stress. Its just one of the most inescapable things in life. One of those things we earnestly wish would just vanish, or didn’t even exist at all. Some of us wake up to it every single day, or just some days for the lucky ones.Whatever the case, there is no single person who can confidently say they have never experienced it, mainly because its a state of mind, so as long as you have a mind, it is bound to be stressed at one point or another. Could be from school, work, relationships, money (or lack thereof). In fact, if its any consolation, Psychology says the most stressed people are most likely to be successful, or are geniuses in most cases because their minds are always at work, thinking.
The mind is indeed a powerful tool because it has somehow managed to develop its own mechanisms to deal with stress, and not let it kill us. I’m not talking about the ideas we get from stress management books and counselling sessions, but our own unique messed up way of coping with stress. It fazes me how we, humans, somehow manage to get the courage to wake up every morning to continue fighting the same hurdles that left us worn out and for the dead the previous night; the financial insecurities, romantic rejections, education struggles, list is endless. That’s when you find yourself ordering three boxes of pizza when normally its a struggle to finish four slices. Or you realize its 6:00 pm and you haven’t eaten a thing since morning, and you have no desire to. If either happens to you know that you have hit unexplainable levels of stress, because the most dangerous kind of stress is where you don’t even realize you are suffering from it.
So, on to the real question. One who orders four large pizzas and the one who goes days without food, who’s better off?
Let’s weigh the cons and pros.
STRESS EATING (Overfeeding)
-Overweight/Out of shape/Fat
If you’re stress eating, chances are you’ll go for the fast foods and junk. In other words ‘fattening foods’. The most famous example being Ice cream after a break up. It’ll be hard to find someone turning to cassavas or beans for comfort in such a situation. I think its nature’s undoing though, that the most pleasurable foods are never the healthy ones. So you’ll stuff yourself up with all the pizza,chocolate, creampuffs and fries you can get. And we all know the result of this. You’ll. Get. Too. Fat. Obese even ( its quite ironical however, more of disappointing, to learn that obesity is one of the main side-effects of anti-depressants). This will only make your situation worse because your self esteem might be affected in the process. Still on the break up example, we all always want to look our best after a breakup, either to get a new boo or just for your own self, and bumping into your ex at a store when you’re completely out of shape, looking your worst isn’t exactly the best for your ego.
-Risk of diseases
As mentioned, stress eating is mainly geared towards the unhealthy foods. These are mostly foods high in fats, sugar, calories and cholesterol which have a fair share in causing nutrition related and cardiovascular diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure and even cancer. Excessive and prolonged intake of this only increases the risk of occurrence of the conditions. Other problems may also arise, eg if you’re a sweettooth, the sugary foods will be the end of your teeth. Stress eating may be a temporary way of easing your stress but in reality, you’re only causing more and more complications for your body.
Stress eating comes with uncontrollable spending. Of course, buying all these foods will cost you a dime. You might end up spending 3 times more than your usual during this stress period. The pinch will be felt later when you snap out of it and realize you’ve used up all your savings and you’re bankrupt and broke as hell. Then boom! The onset of a new stress factor to pile up on the already existing ones. And if the actual reason for the stress was lack of money in the first place,consider that a tragedy. Bad to worse situation right there.
-Old habits die hard
Before you point a finger at your ever-drinking uncle or friend and wonder why they can’t just decide and stop, think of that habit you’ve always wanted to put an end to but you just can’t. From petty ones like chewing the top of your pen or your fingernails to more complex ones like having a cocaine addiction. You can’t just stop because you get a certain pleasure from these things. Its just the same with overfeeding. In fact, research shows that the dopamine receptor levels for obesity and cocaine or alcohol are at per. Dopamine is the hormone released when experiencing pleasure. You might think its only happening during the stress period but it’ll be harder to stop than it seems. From biological reasoning, the appetite control mechanism, your body will have already adapted to the large amount of food it receives and will therefore demand for that. Training it otherwise might take a lot more effort than it seems. Also, psychologically, you’ll be in the habit of eating these kinds of foods so much it might be hard to reset. You’re therefore in danger of giving in to the demands of your body and getting stuck to an unhealthy feeding pattern.
- If you are underweight and normally have trouble eating, it might help boost your weight hence BMI.
- If you were lacking enough sugar, fats and other related nutrients in your body, this may help boost them to required levels.
-Health complications/risk of diseases
Inadequate or lack of feeding comes with a lot of risks. The major and perhaps most common one (especially for girls) being anemia. Other conditions are scurvy (from lack of vitamin C) , beriberi and the worst part is the immune system will be weakened, leaving the body unable to resist these infections. And other diseases. You’ll be constantly wondering why you’re suddenly always down with the flu, malaria ,typhoid..etc. You’re lacking the essential nutrients needed for proper functioning of the body. You’ll also be weak and constantly fatigued, due to the lack of energy and stamina, which will eventually make you unproductive. If you’re on ARVs, your health will dangerously deteriorate as diet is a critical part in managing people living with HIV.
-You Won’t Look Good Either.
Slim is sexy. Thin isn’t. Uhm yeah there’s a difference. Slim is a body type, thin is when you’re malnourished. Some would like to argue that stress eating might actually be beneficial if you were struggling to lose weight. However, starvation is not the way to weight loss. Reason being, you’ll simply be wasting away. Your BMI will be lower than required and that has worse implications. Losing weight is about changing the diet and not doing away with it completely. There are also other details about how we look that are influenced by our diet but we don’t pay attention. For example the skin is greatly influenced by what you eat, the hair, nails, I mean the beauty is in the details and people do pay attention to them. Eliminating the diet means missing out on the responsible nutrients and losing that natural glow on these areas leaving you looking dull and just off. That’s never a good look on anyone.
-A hungry man is An Angry man
It makes sense that the difference in pronouncing hunger and anger is only the h. Ever been so mad at something/someone until you eat and your mood totally shifts from crappy to happy? Well it was the hunger bro. Now imagine the anger you’ll have when you’re both stressed and your stomach is empty. These two combined can cause a hurricane worse than the butterfly effect. It is proven. This is the worst state to be in because one, everyone will avoid you because of your bad vibes;nobody wants to get yelled at randomly or be with someone who’s always complaining and sulky. Being avoided is the worst during your stress period because you’d really use someone to share, vent on or just talk to. Two, you’ll lack peace of mind . You will be unable to concentrate on anything fully and you may end up not doing anything important.
fun fact: hunger is directly linked to concentration, inversely.
- You may save money you’d have used for food ( but is it really worth it?)
By now, you’ve probably already picked sides and decided which is least hazardous. As much I’d like to say one is better than the other, truth is they are both equally dangerous and at the end of the day, you’ll both suffer malnutrition and other related conditions. The best thing to do is to maintain a heathy diet and turn to other stress-relieving activities. Try yoga, long warm baths, walks in the parks,or sex. If its chronic stress or depression, seek professional help.