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Post-Stress Overeating

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"Everyone is dead and everything is terrible and I! AM! MAKING! PANCAKES!"
Max Olguin, Airlocked

People do things that help them lower stress and try to forget after a hard day. Sometimes people try to drink their problems away. Others try to eat their body weight in ice cream. This type of behavior is a fairly common coping mechanism in both fiction and Real Life. This usually takes place after a fight with a loved one or some other type of high-level emotional distress, usually while lamenting about who or what is bothering them.

Compare Heartbreak and Ice Cream, Comfort Food, and the alcoholic equivalent Drowning My Sorrows. Many of these characters experience Weight Woe due to this. It also may lead to Formerly Fit. Contrast Too Unhappy to Be Hungry, where distress leads a character to not eat.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • After having a minor squabble with Sae, Hiro of Hidamari Sketch (pictured above) goes on a binge eating tons of food from cake and donuts to curry, always with a "><" on her face and constantly saying things "Stupid Sae"...Les Yay? Of course not.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica Kyoko goes off on a binge after she loses an argument with Sayaka. In a variant of this, it's also implied that her Big Eater tendencies are a coping mechanism for her Dark and Troubled Past; namely, her family starving after her priest father got excommunicated, and later his killing the rest of her family and himself after finding out about Kyoko's contract.
  • Usagi tends to do this in the first anime of Sailor Moon, usually after fights with Mamoru. Not so much in the manga.
  • Fresh Pretty Cure!: After realizing that Miki already has a boyfriend and his hundredth defeat in attempting to ask her out, Yuuki goes on a binge of donuts while crying. As he puts it to the clerk "If it's gonna be like that, I'll just stuff my face. Old man, give'em to me nonstop!".
  • Midora from Toriko takes this trope to a massive villainous level. He became a Villainous Glutton with a huge appetite in order to cope with the loss of Frohze.
  • Magi: Labyrinth of Magic:
    • Played for laughs as both Aladdin and Alibaba after the events of the Balbadd arc did this for months to the point they became grossly overweight. In Aladdin's case, Morgiana and Ja'far spoiled him rotten with treats so he wouldn't have to think about Ugo's death.
    • In the Alma Torran flashback, Sheba aggressively ate everything at the table after she saw her Precocious Crush Solomon having a close moment with who she believed was her rival Arba. Her son Aladdin happened to share this trait.
  • One Star Ocean EX has Rena do this in a panic after she mistakenly thinks she saw Claude and Celine smooching.
  • When Kanou from Nurse Angel Ririka SOS began spending time with Miyuki, Ririka became mad. She ended up eating five crepes in one sitting. Her friends only watched in astonishment.
  • After a visit by her deadbeat father, Kanna from Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid gets rid of her stress by angrily scarfing down a massive amount of cream bread. Kobayashi and Tohru both end up comparing her behavior to Elma.
  • Cells at Work: Bacteria!: Following a supposedly bad break-up, the host body has taken to eaten more meat in general, which causes her to have varying levels of intestinal distress.
  • In My Hero Academia, the stress of having to raise a non-superpowered son in a setting where superhumans make up roughly 80% of the population led to Izuku Midoriya's mother developing a habit of stress-eating, which explains her currently chubby physique.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Dusk to Dawn series, Catwoman is a Big Eater, so food is her preferred stress reliever. This comes from being homeless and fending off starvation every day as a kid. In the first book Batman: Angel of Death, when she learns her little sister has grown into a cult's Super Soldier, Selina makes a beeline for the fridge and gorges on whatever she can find, including raw eggs.
    Selina: It's easier to believe everything's gonna be fine on a full stomach, okay?!

    Films — Animation 
  • In Shrek 2, this is a Running Gag with Fairy Godmother.
    My diet is ruined! I hope you're happy.
  • Hiro and Tadashi's Aunt Cass does this in Big Hero 6 when she berates the two of them ending up in jail because of Hiro's bot fighting.
    Cass: (angrily eating a donut) Stress eating, because of you! [...] Mmm, this is really good...
  • In Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Peter B. Parker (an older, jaded version of Spider-Man from an alternate universe) lapsed into this after Aunt May died and he and his wife MJ divorced. After moving out, he lounges around his bachelor apartment gorging himself on pizza until he develops a noticeable gut that almost everyone in the movie points out.

    Film – Live Action 
  • During the events of Avengers: Infinity War, Thor witnesses Thanos killing half of his people, including his brother and his best friend, and later fails to kill Thanos in time because he was too focussed on getting his revenge. This leads to Thanos killing half of all life in the universe. In Avengers: Endgame, before the mission to the Garden, where the Avengers hope to get the Infinity Stones to reverse Thanos's fingersnap, Thor is shown eating a bowl of bread in addition to drinking alcohol. After it is revealed that Thanos destroyed the Stones and with them all hope to reverse the snap, Thor passes the Despair Event Horizon, and when we see him again after a five-year time jump, it's made abundantly clear from how his house in New Asgard is littered with discarded wings, pizza boxes, and snack wrappers that he's been eating way too much junk food.
  • The Wedding Year: After running out on her wedding to Robbie, Violet goes to a fast food joint and downs three and a half cheeseburgers.

  • Deconstructed in The Babysitters Club book Stacey's Emergency. Stacey begins eating a lot of sweets due to her sadness. However, it complicates her diabetes, which results her being sent to the hospital.
  • Demonstrated graphically and constantly in She's Come Undone, where the main character initially turns to food after being raped at age 13 and continues to overeat to cope with emotional stress, resulting in obesity.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Leo Knox from The Finder is this. Before the series, he had gained weight after the death of his wife and daughter but had lost a lot of weight with the help of Walter, but he reaches for junk food when dealing with emotions. This is especially evident in "The Conversation" where the gang is helping a family that reminds Leo of his own family. Leo at first denies that what he is eating is connected to his emotions.
    Sometimes a ding dong is just a ding dong.
  • In the show Pushing Daisies, Olive "stress-binged" on the pies that Ned "stress-baked".
  • You can tell Jack Donaghy of 30 Rock is stressed when he starts binging like crazy.
  • Ugly Betty: When faced with big stressors, e.g. the possibility of losing her job, Amanda Tanen can clean a pan of flan in a matter of minutes. The discovery that she is adopted, and the now-deceased Fey Sommers is her real mother, and her father is unknown causes her to pack on plot-relevant pounds between Seasons 1 and 2.
  • In Monk, this was how Dale "The Whale" Biederbeck got to his current state: after his mother's death, he dealt with his grief by engaging in binge-eating, causing him to become so fat he can't even get out of bed.
  • Frasier
    • Daphne's dramatic weight gain (in reality the result of actress Jane Leeves' pregnancy) was attributed in-universe to stress-eating caused by her anxiety at trying to live up to Niles' lofty expectations.
    • After going through a state of depression over a breakup, Frasier begins binge eating, and ends up putting on several lbs in a very short amount of time.
  • On Saturday Night Live, recurring character Stuart Smalley, in one of his final appearances on the show, is hosting his show, "Daily Affirmation with Stuart Smalley", but he can't get through it because he's depressed over his movie, Stuart Saves His Family tanking at the box office despite glowing reviews from critics. He instead, spends the sketch binge eating a variety of Pepperidge Farm cookies, and chewing out the audience for not watching his movie.
  • In Fargo episode "Aporia", Nikki has stolen Varga's laptop and blackmails him for the content. He resorts to aggressively eating a tub of ice cream on the toilet.
  • David Rose on Schitt's Creek stress eats, especially after a romantic breakup.
  • Star Trek: Picard: After experiencing a fit of anxiety in "Nepenthe", Dr. Agnes Jurati attempts to calm herself down by gorging on two large pieces of cake, and she manages to eat a mouthful a third before she pukes out the red velvet she had recently consumed.
  • In one episode of Derry Girls the girls are told to completely re-write a class assignment in just one evening. This makes them so stressed that they binge their way through a cupboard full of sweets Erin's mother was saving for Christmas.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In The Muppets episode "Swine Song", Kermit says that stress over the future of the show has given him butterflies in his stomach ... then clarifies that when he's stressed he eats butterflies.

  • From the comedic short play "Henry VIII's Gender Reveal Party":
    Henry: Stop laughing! You know I overeat when I get anxious.

    Video Games 
  • At the end of the beach trip in Mega Man Star Force 3, Geo has time to save only one of his friend's possessions from being lost. Since two of them belong to Sonia and Luna, the one whose item you didn't retrieve (or both if you picked Bud's) will indulge in this.
  • In Oxygen Not Included, a Duplicant with the Binge Eater stress response will eat way more food than usual if their Stress levels get too high.
  • Similarly, one of the minor mental breaks in Rimworld is a Food Binge, where the colonist will start grabbing meal after meal and gorging it one after the other, barely pausing between meals and doing nothing else, until they recover or go to sleep. Fairly brief, but when food is scarce...

    Western Animation 
  • In Central Park, Season 1 "Rival Busker", because her family is part of The Mafiya, Anya is so nervous about marrying her fiance that she starts eating a lot before the wedding ceremony. Eventually, she took some meat from the hotel kitchen and runs away. Molly finds her and hides her in her hotel room where she eats all the snacks that Paige forbid Molly from eating.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
  • In the first season of The Legend of Korra, after Bolin catches Korra, his crush, kissing Mako, his brother, he runs away crying, and is later found in a noodle restaurant, slurring and nearly comatose after stuffing his face for hours.
  • In an episode of Family Guy, Brian is depressed because he is alone on Valentine's Day, and begins to binge eat a box of chocolates. Unfortunately, he forgot that chocolate is toxic for dogs and ends up getting sick.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "What Ever Happened to Spongebob", Gary binge eats the entire, year supply of Snail Food in depression. So he can stop snapping at SpongeBob into leaving the house.

    Real Life 
  • A lot of people suffer from this as an outlet for emotional distress, the equivalent for other people that is smoking and or drinking.
    • In clinical terms, frequent use of this behavior as a coping mechanism can be called Binge Eating Disorder or Bulimia Nervosa. Frequent overeating can also satisfy the self-destructive criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder.
  • ADHD (in all 3 forms) can cause this, as eating delicious, yet unhealthy foods increase the below-average dopamine levels that those with ADHD suffer from. ADHD has been noted to cause obesity, especially when combined with a stressful school/work life as it's a disorder that affects learning and organization skills. On the other hand, some with the disorder Forgets to Eat instead.


Video Example(s):


I Had a Snack Attack

Because Anya's family has a criminal background, she's nervous about marrying her finance and starts eating a lot before the wedding ceremony and would later run away.

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Example of:

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Main / PostStressOvereating