One of the many aspects of human nature is the instinctive-like behavior of self-gratifying to offset negative physical or emotional pain. Many patients tell me that their weight gain was either due to: 1- stress eating 2-a physical pain syndrome. Intellectually, we all know that the consumption of carbohydrates does not “undo” the stressful event that caused the stress eating nor does eating high carb foods take away a physical pain. Alcohol may impact on both stress and physical pain but clearly is a very temporary “treatment”.
The gaining of weight during stressful or painful periods of our lives only adds more to the stress and/or pain. Starting with the physical pain aspect, if the pain involves weight bearing joints, with the “4 for 1” pounds of pressure increase in weight bearing joints, the pain-induced stress eating compounds the pain. On the stress/emotional eating side of things, the weight gain from stress eating only further adds to our stress because now, in addition to the stress issues that led to the weight gain, now we have to contend with the weight problem.
With interest, as our practice is now also certifying patients with qualifying conditions for the use of medical CBD/THC (“medical marijuana”) I will monitor how the patients with pain and/or stress respond from a weight standpoint. It will be quite interesting to see if there is a pattern of much less stress/pain induced eating, thereby leading to less weight gain in these people.
Assess your own use of food and/or alcohol to self treat a medical/psychological condition(s) you may be experiencing. The awareness of this behavioral pattern is the first step in eliminating those weight-derailing behaviors.