"Stress eating during finals: I'm not the only one, right?"

The Spectrum

Finals are approaching quickly and if you're anything like me, you'll be reaching your maximum stress level weeks before the actual final exam. And if you're really like me, you'll be reaching for some comfort food while staying up well into the night, cramming for your exams. Here are some facts about comfort eating that may surprise you.

Comforteating.com says people eat when they're stressed, bored or lonely. The website states comfort eating is instilled in people from birth.

"When we were babies, we cried and our mothers comforted us with their milk," the website states. "As we grew older, we were given treats for comfort or when we hurt ourselves. We were rewarded with sweets or the occasional ice cream when we were good.We were learning the lessons that food could make us feel better."

When we are under pressure, upset or worried, our comfort food buttons get pressed and we are more likely to eat these types of foods, according to the site.

I love pizza, but when I found out that one slice was around 190 calories, I realized I had no idea how many calories I was mindlessly consuming.

Mayoclinic.com explains although some people actually eat less in the face of strong emotions, others turn to impulsive or binge eating. Food also serves as a distraction when worrying over an upcoming event and your emotions can become so tied to your eating habits, you may rapidly eat whatever's convenient without even enjoying it.

When I'm feeling the pressure of school or work, it feels so much better to indulge in some French fries or chocolate as a way to make myself feel better.Psychologytoday.com writes when you experience stress, your brain signals your body to produce a hormone called Cortisol. Left to its own devices, long-term anxiety depletes your energy reserves. Your body uses fat and sugar-laden foods to help your body build up reserves that deal with these stressful situations.

When I asked my coworkers what their favorite foods to eat are when they're stressed or upset, unsurprisingly, the choices were mostly sugary, fried or greasy. I thought about my own habits and the foods I eat and realized no matter how often I exercise, the things I eat will directly affect my health in the future.

During finals, I try to limit what I eat to cope with my stress, but sometimes the urge to reach for those chicken nuggets is too strong.

Weightloss.com explains there are five steps to stopping emotional eating before it starts. They include: identifying your triggers, recognizing hunger signals and when you're really hungry, limiting your trigger foods, not skipping meals and creating alternatives to eating, like reading a book, or other activities for a distraction.

No matter your stress level, there are always foods and treats that can be a distraction during the last few weeks of school. But learning about some facts and warning signs can help keep you energized and ready to end the school year on a smart and healthy note.

Email: lisa.epstein@ubspectrum.com