Can Too Much Screen Time Cause Stress Eating?

“Limit your leisure/entertainment screen time to two hours daily.”dreamstime_s_8013840

The two hours doesn’t include screen time that’s part of your job.

That is excellent health advice and you will hear it from many health and fitness experts. It’s often directed at children only, but it’s excellent advice for adults too. In fact, it’s a healthy habit to establish for your whole family.

It seems logical that too much screen time would make for too much time being sedentary.

We know that a sedentary lifestyle isn’t good for us. The two hour screen time limit could result in less sitting. It might help us to spend more time doing physical activities. Yes, more moving and less sitting is definitely one healthy reason for limiting screen time.

I think there is an even better reason to limit your screen time.

Too much screen time might have a poisonous effect on us because it:

  • Bombards us with much disturbing news.
  • Puts too many scary, unpleasant or disturbing images in front of our eyes.
  • Creates a sense of doom.
  • Makes it hard to sleep
  • Isolates us. We are too involved with what’s on the screen to have meaningful interaction with people around us.dreamstime_s_2301894
Too much screen time might create or increase our stress levels.

Many of us are already fighting a lot of stress in our lives. Sitting in front of a screen often isn’t the stress reliever we hope it will be; it’s the opposite. High levels of stress can drive us to eat too much. We want relief from the stress. Eating is a way of coping, but stress eating is usually not an eating behavior that supports healthy weight. It tends to undermine our efforts to make the better choices for good nutrition and limiting calories to enable successful weight loss or maintenance.

Stress eaters typically do not go for the fruits and vegetables.
Studies show that when we're stretched we want sweet, salty, high fat, simple carb, high-calorie foods.

Studies show that when we’re stretched we want sweet, salty, high fat, simple carb, high-calorie foods.

Sweet, or salty, high fat, calorie-dense foods seem to be preferred for relieving stress. When we’re stress eating we turn to “red-light foods.” They’re the foods that take extra care to eat in balance and moderation. Eating them under stress can erase our concept of reasonable portions.

If we could stick to just one piece of pizza when we're stressed, stress eating wouldn't be a problem. When we're stressed it may be more like ONE PIZZA, not ONE SLICE!

If we could stick to just one piece of pizza when we’re stressed, stress eating wouldn’t be a problem. When we’re stressed it may be more like ONE PIZZA, not ONE SLICE!

Eating helps for a while, but when we stop we might have added to our stressors rather than relieved them. We beat ourselves up for what we just did. We think negative thoughts about our actions and worse, about ourselves. We lose our faith in ourselves and our ability to get fit by sticking to smart eating routines.

Stress eating eats up your motivation"What's the use? I blow it every time!"

Stress eating eats up your motivation”What’s the use? I blow it every time!”

We already “blew it” and we feel the need to give ourselves a break from the negative thoughts we’re having about ourselves, so we turn from food and back to the screen to start the whole cycle over again. This may be accompanied with a promise we to ourselves that “I’ll make up for this tomorrow.” Promises we make to ourselves are the easiest ones to break.

I think the experts are right. I don’t think more than 2 hours of screen time is good for our mental and physical health!

Try cutting down your screen time and watch your confidence in yourself grow and your waist shrink!

Try cutting down your screen time and watch your confidence in yourself grow while your waist shrinks!

It’s a very good idea to limit screen time to two hours. Try it! See how it enhances your mood, decreases your stress, and helps you stay on track with your weight-related goals!

Less screen time + less stress = more power to reach and maintain your healthy weight!

 

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.