Don’t Let Your Stress Consume You



When left unmanaged, stress-eating consumes us.

Karyss Park, Photojournalist

You had a bad day at school. Or a bad day at work. Or really, just a day. Or all of the above. After wearily arriving home, you drag—or in another case, rush—your feet to the pantry or fridge. Yanking open the door, you find a new sense of alertness; your eyes frantically scan the assortment of snacks before you until they finally land on whatever you’ve been craving. Choose your poison: a whole bag of potato chips, a family-sized chocolate bar, a tub of ice cream, you name it. “Just one snack,” you think to yourself, reaching into the abyss. Well, that’s what we all think to ourselves. However, that “one snack” seems to disappear within a blink of an eye, and you find yourself opening the next. As the wrappers, containers, and dishes start to pile up, you realize that maybe you are taking an unhealthy course of action. Still, you can’t stop taking another bite,  and then another—your body is moving faster than you can think, and everything simply tastes so good. So good that it seems to melt your stress away, even if momentarily.

Does this sound accurate? If so, you may be experiencing the vicious cycle of stress eating. Movies and TV shows often depict this behavior through scenes of a freshly dumped man running to his fridge and then slumping onto his couch, barbarically wolfing down a tub of ice cream and a slice of pizza simultaneously. Although the demographic of stress eating is much broader than this type of characterization suggests, the actions of such a man are not too far from reality. 

In general, stress eating is a method of suppressing or trying to alleviate negative emotions or boredom through eating. It may sound simple, but this type of eating is dictated by sudden and strong cravings influenced by emotions rather than necessity. The body takes control, and its owner finds his or herself devouring massive amounts of food without realizing or being able to stop. Unfortunately, this causes stress eating to be one of the major causes of weight gain and other health problems. This is worsened by the fact that the most popular stress foods include “high-calorie, sweet and fatty foods” (

I think my lifestyle of staying up late influences my eating schedule, so I end up eating irregularly.”

— Kimberley Jeves (12)

Typically, teenagers and working adults appear to be the most prone to stress eating due to the daily high-pressure situations and workloads they are burdened with. Especially among teenagers to college-age students, the turbulent events of youth and hormonal imbalances can strengthen the grip of cravings. Kimberley Jeves (12), a student who experiences the influence of stress eating, says that “[she] stays up late doing homework sometimes” (at around 2 AM), and she “usually cook[s] [herself] meals to eat while [doing] homework.” She believes that “[her] lifestyle of staying up late influences [her] eating schedule,” causing her to eat irregularly. Additionally, insecurities due to stress eating-related weight gain can occur, and one’s overall mentality can be negatively impacted due to the effects of a poor diet. 

Nevertheless, there are ways to combat stress eating. Such methods include keeping a food diary, practicing stress management techniques, remembering to distinguish your hunger from cravings, hiding or not buying tempting snacks to begin with, not depriving yourself of food, and substituting unhealthy snacks with healthier alternatives such as vegetables or fruit ( Overall, it is most important to maintain a vigilant mindset and remember that the effects of stress-eating will eventually outweigh the temporary satisfaction and relief it may provide.