This article originally appeared in Shape.com.
If you haven't reached for a tub of cookie dough, wheel of brie, frozen pizza, or family-size two-pound bag of Sour Patch Kids (just me?) during a break-up, college finals, while cramming for a big work presentation, or during a global pandemic, congratulations. You're one of perhaps 12 people (rough estimate) who are immune to this natural, biological, and psychological phenomenon. However, if you have ever found yourself stress eating, either on occasion or seemingly 24/7, welcome. We have a lot to talk about.
What Exactly Is Stress Eating, Anyway?
Simply put, stress eating is "the act of eating when feeling stressed and seeking comfort," says Dalina Soto, R.D.N., founder of Nutritiously Yours.
"Biochemically, stress eating is when your body is eating because of the increase in cortisol (the stress-response hormone)," says Lisa Mastela, R.D., M.P.H., founder of Bumpin' Blends, a pre-made smoothie company. "Cortisol triggers cravings for pleasure, or for sweet or salty indulgent foods."