Emotional eating is eating for reasons other than
hunger. Emotional eating is the practice of consuming large quantities of food -- usually "comfort" or junk foods -- in response to feelings instead of hunger. Experts estimate that 75% of overeating is caused by emotions.
How to Overcome
Eating is a part of life. Your body gets its
nutrients from food. Sometimes we can go overboard with
our eating habits and it can result in gaining weight.
One issue with food is emotional eating.
The problem of emotional eating may end with the scale
but it begins in the mind. Stress takes its toll on your
life. When your defenses are compromised your health
takes a hit and so do your emotions.
Everyone has good days and bad days. How we deal with
the bad ones brings emotional eating into play. You look
for comfort for your hurts. People who turn to food for
comfort find a coping mechanism that won’t judge them,
hurt them or tell them “no.” To complicate the issue,
eating pleasurable foods can stimulate the release of
endorphins just like exercise. So, after you eat, you
Emotional eaters use food to relieve stress. They hide
behind the food instead of seeking solutions to the
problems. This is not uncommon when the stressor is
something horrible such as physical abuse or a death.
But, how do you know you are using food in this way? The
first sign is obvious. You will gain weight if you eat
too much. In light of the weight gain, examine other
areas of your life:
* Have you been under stress lately at work or at home?
* Has anything traumatic happened in the last year?
* Are you dealing with a problem but haven’t found a
Answering “yes” to any of these questions could mean
that you are an emotional eater. You eat but you are not
necessarily hungry at the time. The foods that you
choose are what we term “comfort foods”:
* High fat foods like French fries, fried foods
* High carb foods like macaroni and cheese, mashed
* Sugary foods like ice cream, donuts, cookies, cake
There is help for emotional eaters. The first step is
recognizing that you have a problem. You’ll experience
feelings of helplessness and guilt. The guilt is over
potentially ruining your health and the helplessness
lies in the fact that you don’t see a way out.
Secondly, seek counseling. There are many types of
counselors out there that can meet your need. Emotional
eating has nothing to do with dieting or changing your
eating habits but gaining control over your emotions.
A counselor might suggest things like visualization,
practicing problem solving skills, relaxation techniques
and family support. Visualization helps you to see your
problems in a realistic way and not blown out of
proportion. You will also learn to see food as nutrition
for the body and not an emotional crutch.
Thirdly, your family can learn your triggers for stress
and be on the lookout for changes in your eating habits.
They can help you be aware of the foods you are eating,
assist you in making healthy food choices and exercise
along with you. Proper diet and exercise increases
immunity, blood flow and positive thinking. Yoga
enhances the mind/body connection so you don’t eat when
you aren’t hungry.
Finding new ways to solve your problems and deal with
stress will push food out of the equation. You’ll feel
good about finding solutions which will replace the
dependence on food.
Be sure to exercise regularly and get adequate rest. Your mood is more manageable and your body can more effectively fight stress when it's fit and well rested.
If you give in to emotional eating, forgive yourself and start fresh the next day. Try to learn from the experience, and make a plan for how you can prevent it in the future. Focus on the positive changes you're making in your eating habits and give yourself credit for making changes that ensure better health.
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