Watch what you eat when stressed, public advised

Petaling Jaya: In a warning about stress and its impact on eating habits, the deputy chairman of the Malaysia Organisation of Psychospiritual Wellbeing, Dr Adnan Omar, has emphasized the need for individuals, particularly students, to be mindful of their diet during stressful periods. Stress can lead to problematic eating patterns, such as an excessive consumption of junk food, especially among those dealing with academic, social, and familial issues. Adnan explained that during these stressful times, some individuals may turn to comfort food, leading to unhealthy eating habits that further add to stress and anxiety.

The World Health Organisation has highlighted that a significant increase or decrease in body weight within a short period can indicate symptoms of depression. This underscores the importance of monitoring eating habits and maintaining a balanced diet, especially during periods of heightened stress or anxiety.

Shafiq Hanafi, a law student, shared his personal experience of how he turned to binge eating as a coping mechanism following the death of his mother in 2022. The weight gain led to a loss of confidence and subsequent self-esteem issues. Finance executive Sharmila Rajashekar also noticed a direct link between her mood and work performance and the food she ate.

Adnan stated that stress often triggers cravings for comfort foods high in sugars and fat. These comfort foods may provide temporary relief, but they can lead to weight gain and further stress. In addition to weight gain, stress can also cause negative psychological symptoms such as insomnia or hypersomnia, extreme fatigue, loss of interest in daily activities, difficulty in concentrating, and social withdrawal, or even suicidal thoughts, which are particularly concerning.

However, Adnan stressed the importance of a balanced diet, especially during difficult times. By following healthy dietary guidelines and seeking appropriate support, individuals can better manage their stress and maintain both their physical and psychological well-being. Adnan, who promotes mental health and offers advice on healthy living, concluded that maintaining a balanced diet is crucial in managing stress effectively.

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