7 Reasons Why You May Be Stress Eating Right Now — And Why That’s Okay

Are you eating more than you want?

7 Reasons Why You May Be Stress Eating Right Now — And Why That’s Okay Tamas Pap/unsplash

Are you isolated and quarantined because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic? Are the stress and anxiety causing your mental health to deteriorate?

By now, you may be asking yourself why on Earth you cannot stop binge eating.

The pattern of how you are eating might drive you crazy with guilt and shame. It seems you are taken over by an all-consuming force.

Despite your efforts and promises to yourself, the refrigerator keeps calling your name. You have the best intentions and you are sure you can make it to dinner without snacking, but you cannot.


RELATED: It's OK To Stress-Eat & Gain Weight When You're In Coronavirus Lockdown

You think you will exercise later and eat healthy tomorrow. However, your days are beginning to blend in with each other... and so is your stress eating.

To make things worse, there might be a constant fear in your mind — and it's not the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.


You may be terrified about ending this quarantine and isolation period with 15 pounds more than when you started it. And if you've gained any weight already, you are likely alreayd beyond horrified at the prospect.

As a psychotherapist of more than 25 years, I can tell you that there are reasons why you may be eating compulsively and not able to stop.

Here are 7 reasons why you're stress eating right now — and why that's OK.

1. You have a "diet mentality."

During quarantine, you might have, unwillingly, developed the "diet mentality."

What is the diet mentality? It's adhering to inflexible and subjective rules about what you can eat.

This attitude spells problems because, even when at the outset it was supposed to fix your eating too much, in reality, those rules are impossible to follow through.


2. You're being more restrictive than necessary.

Most people binge-eat when they do not allow themselves to eat what they love, as part of their normal lives. Of course, everyone benefits from healthy eating and good quality food.

But, when you feel that any eating outside of what is good and healthy is a sin, you risk binge eating.

If you are in this category, you may need to relax and think that some "non-good" food may be good, at this point.

3. You're unwilling to forgive yourself.

At a certain point during quarantine, you ate more than usual. Instead of forgiving yourself, you decided to eat less.

An inner part of you rebels. You already have enough with one lack of freedom at a time.


So, you began a cycle of self-disparagement that is unhealthy and useless.

4. You feel negative emotions.

People end up giving into emotional eating due to negative emotions such as fear, boredom, loneliness, and frustration.

COVID-19 has brought a lot of those emotions into your life — not that you needed any more of those. But here they are. What should you do now?

Try to make them conscious and ask yourself what your worst fear is. Is it truly realistic? Check the validity of your worst fears.

RELATED: Why Feeling Depressed And Alone Leads Us To Emotional Eating

5. You lack routine.

Make sure you have set times to eat. Structure helps with grazing.


Humans love both novelty and routine.

There is so much unknown happening now that, more than ever, you need to know at what time you will have your next meal.

6. You're constantly weighing yourself.

Throw that scale out. Put it away for the entire quarantine. You will know what happens to your body with your clothes. You always do.

Some people are forever trying to control the size of their body due to fear. They are terrified of gaining weight.

In these cases, body size and eating get conflated. The normal varying of the number on the scale can send the person into a panic.

7. You take in too much information on COVID-19.

News can make you feel overwhelmed and overloaded. The surplus of stimuli can breed anxiety.


If you are reading this, it may be because you've been coping with anxiety through food.

A good way to get informed is to watch a channel you trust and not to overdo it. Just enough to know. You do not need to be the world expert on current COVID-19 events.

If you found out you have been contributing to your eating compulsively, know that it's OK.



  • Being conscious of the above will help you modify your behavior.
  • You will not be confined forever. This too shall pass.
  • Once you resume your regular life, balance will return.

This is a time to be extra kind to yourself, even if you eat compulsively. I'd say more so when you eat compulsively.

It is time to try something new in your life. Think of an activity that might bring you a sense of peace and wellbeing to your days inside close quarters. It may be music, meditation, reading, or gardening.

Include comforting food in your list.

It is a true paradox that when you allow yourself to eat what you fear, you do not want it as much as when you were bent into forbidding yourself to have it.


RELATED: 6 Mindful Ways To Stop Emotional Stress Eating In Its Tracks

Iréné Celcer is a psychotherapist and an author working and living in Atlanta, Georgia and in Buenos Aires, Argentina. For more information, visit her website.