How to Live Alone—Without Overeating

March 13, 2017

Help! I was never a big eater until I got an apartment without a roommate. Landing a wonderful, well-paying role in a musical made it possible to move to a spacious studio with an open kitchen. So what’s with my sudden need to keep eating?

—Food Junky, Queens, NY

After ruling out any metabolic disorders associated with changes in your eating habits, you might consider the layout of your apartment. While open kitchens are trendy, a recent study in Environment & Behavior shows that people who see extra food get more refills and end up eating a greater amount of calories. Unless you want to remove everything edible from your countertops, a strategically placed screen between you and the kitchen can help solve this problem.

It also sounds like you’re under considerable stress, due to all the life changes that have happened recently. Landing a new role is a major professional achievement, but with it can come different responsibilities, job conditions or hours. Plus, you’ve had a change in your living situation and have altered your social habits, since you left your roommate. According to the Social Readjustment Rating Scale, an inventory of common stressors used in psychology, the more changes you have within a year, the higher your chance of developing a stress-related disorder, such as overeating. Although the impact of a particular stressor will vary from one dancer to another, you can regain a greater sense of stability by practicing good health habits, such as getting rid of any junk food, and scheduling regular meet-ups with friends.

Send your questions to Dr. Linda Hamilton at [email protected].