A Surprising New Kind of Support for Emotional EatingHeather Neal
Would you believe me if I told you one day instead of stepping into Victoria’s Secret to pick out a bra, we may be shopping at Microsoft instead? Yes, the same company that makes Windows, the Surface, and Xbox. We just might be. Hear me out:
Of the many factors that contribute to obesity, stress-eating may be one of the hardest to overcome. It’s one thing to pick a salad over a burger because you know it’s healthier; it’s another thing to put the carton of ice cream back in the freezer after a dreadful day. Stress-eating can be as benign as grabbing an extra chocolate from the candy bowl because you nearly missed a deadline. It can be as problematic as constantly turning towards food to bury your emotions or avoid having to deal with them head-on. It’s something plenty of us do, at least on some scale. According to this study, about half of the U.S. engages in emotional eating. Stress-induced or emotion-triggered eating can lead to a nasty cycle that can perpetuate or cause obesity, which at this point we all know spells disaster for our health. The problem is, it’s not so easy to stop. We often don’t realize we’ve downed the entire bag of Cheetos until you reach your hand in one last time and come up with nothing but orange crumbs. Once you’re over-stressed or too upset, it’s hard to turn the feelings off just to avoid eating something you probably don’t need. So what if there were a way to have a little tap on the shoulder warning you that you’re about to cross into that dangerous territory?
Well, soon there may be, and I don’t mean hiring your best friend to sit beside you all day assessing your emotional state. It’s a whole new kind of support for emotional eating: a bra. Microsoft is in the initial stages of developing a bra that can sense changes in heart rate and perspiration that can predict when you’re getting stressed or emotional. It sends an alert to your smartphone to warn you, giving you time to redirect your emotional energy (or hide all the food in the house). It’s not quite a reality yet, as the battery life of the device maxed out at three to four hours during the trial. Women can’t quite be expected to change their undergarments every three hours just in case they may get stressed at some point during the day. The Microsoft team of researchers is still working on that one. And for once, this device isn’t targeted to women just because women are the more emotional sex, although stress-eating does tend to affect mostly women. The reason the device is a bra isn’t simply so it can be targeted to women; it’s because men’s underwear was too far away from the heart for the device to get accurate readings. Researchers are still working on a solution to this one too.
So a device that can warn you that you might be about to overeat for the wrong reasons … will that really work? If I’m upset and want a bag of Snickers, I can’t imagine an alert on my phone would be enough to stop me. But maybe in conjunction with other methods, like therapy or stress-relieving alternatives, it would be beneficial.
What do you think — would you wear a bra that stopped you from eating emotionally?
More from Heather: