Unfortunately, this also sets up a negative feed-back loop in your brain. Sugar is highly addictive and some studies suggest that sugar is more addictive than cocaine. Your brain will actually begin to crave it and send out signals that it “needs” it. This happens especially in times of stress when your brain is looking for some type of relief.
We, as humans, often will move towards pleasure and away from pain. Because stress is painful, you are looking to move away from the stressful situation and towards something that will make you feel better. If you have taught yourself that sugar means pleasure, then that is what you will tend to move towards.
Sugar laden foods are everywhere. They are cheap, easy to find, and taste good. However, every time you stress eat, you are reinforcing this pathological feed-back loop, making it harder and harder to break the pattern.
Excess sugar consumption can lead to obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, and many more serious health conditions. With the current COVID-19 pandemic having increase morbidity in these very health conditions, now is more important than ever to get bad eating habits under control.
When you find yourself cravings foods during times of stress, do your best to not give in to the cravings. It will be difficult at first, as the impulses will be strong. However, the more you resist, the easier it becomes. As with any addiction, the only solution is to break the pattern.
Building new, healthy responses to stress is key during this time. You will need to build new healthy, neurological pathways and literally retrain your brain. Instead of going to the fridge, try going for a 15-20 minute walk, deep breathing for 15-20 minutes, writing in a journal, or any other healthy activity that makes you feel relaxed.
Studies show that sugar cravings can also be dulled by eating healthy fats and protein through out the day. Healthy proteins and fats are very satiating and tell the brain we are full. Try a handful of nuts, an ounce of hard cheese, some olives, a few ounces of chicken, a hard boiled egg, or half an avocado as a healthy snack.