by Christina Turner, Dietitian/Nutritionist
I’m sure you can remember a time of being stressed. Exams, breaking up with a partner, starting a new job or just having a big day at work can stress many of us out.
Do you remember a time when stress affected what you ate?
Perhaps you ate large amounts of food that were more than you wanted. Perhaps you ate little or nothing, or maybe the kinds of food you ate were not what you wanted but, at the time, they helped you to “deal” with the situation.
If you have experienced this, you are definitely not alone. Our eating habits and how we interact with food are, for many of us, interwoven with our emotions. We don’t just eat to fuel our body – food is also part of our culture, celebrations and, more and more, a way of managing with life.
How anxiety affects our eating
Normal eating means there will be times when we eat due to our emotions.
However, problems can arise when our relationship with food becomes increasingly unhappy due to acute stressful experiences like anxiety.
Anxiety is not just a one-off event like feeling a bit worried or stressed about that exam. It’s ongoing, where there doesn’t seem to be a “real” cause for the concerns and it can be really difficult to live day-to-day and manage the anxious feelings.
Anxiety can cause us to:
- binge on foods often
- choose foods on a regular basis that don’t seem to nourish us
- restrict our diet so much it becomes harmful for health
For many people, feeling guilty about how we eat can turn it all into a vicious cycle.
How to access help for anxiety
If you are experiencing anxiety, your GP and/or local mental health services can help. To learn more about mental health services on the North Coast, click here.
If anxiety is affecting your eating often, an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) can also assist. To search for an APD in your area go to the Dietitians Association of Australia website.
Christina Turner is an Accredited Practising Dietitian/Nutritionist and the founder of SOL North Coast Nutrition. She loves eating (and nutrition) and is passionate about helping people to get the ‘sol’ back in their eating.
Visit www.solnutrition.com.au for more information.