As finals season approaches, many college students may resort to coping through the final few weeks of the semester. With varying foods offered in the dining halls, some college students may stress eat as a way of dealing with the finals season. If there is additional energy needed to study, consuming more food could be a possible pathway to providing this energy. Yet, while the exams themselves may have influenced students’ tendency to binge eat during stressful times, genetics may also play a role.
One particular trend that can be seen is that child-overeating habits can be passed on from the mother. Specifically, a study revealed that if a mother engages in stress eating with less meal regulation, then the breastfeeding child is more likely to develop similar eating habits.1 Because of this, the child may go on to develop potential health side effects caused by emotionally induced eating. Yet, it is important to note that there may also be a socio-economic impact on the mother’s engagement in stress-eating. Particularly, if a mother is in a stressful work environment or is overwhelmed with uncontrollable financial concerns, this may impact their eating behaviors and mechanisms for coping with stress. Moms, who do not have the time to meditate or go to the gym during a long work week, may find themselves stress-eating in comparison to mothers with more time available and less-stressful life situations. With this, it is vital to consider future studies that highlight the mothers’ socio-economic backgrounds to acquire a further scope of the impacts of self-regulation in eating.
With this, it is also vital to consider children, whose mothers do not often engage in emotionally induced eating. In the study, mothers with an increased level of self-regulation passed this trait on to their children.1 This could be due to the factorization of which the mothers had more time and resources to explore various coping mechanisms for stress from yoga and morning runs to meditation. These mothers may pass on this trait to their children, who may discover various ways to cope with their stress aside from stress eating.
While students may not be able to fully control their eating habits and mechanisms of coping with stress, it is vital to consider various resources to take on the finals season. For students who stress-eat during finals, fruit and vegetable study snacks may offer a healthier alternative to promote health, while satisfying one’s hunger. Coupled with this, running, swimming, meditation, yoga, and journaling offer a healthier alternative to channeling energy.
 Yelverton, C.A., Geraghty, A.A., O’Brien, E.C. et al. “Breastfeeding and Maternal Eating Behaviours are Associated with Child Eating Behaviours: Findings from the ROLO Kids Study.” Eur J Clin Nutr 75, 670–679 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41430-020-00764-7