Over the years of working with many individuals, ive found that emotional eating was among the top contributors to excess weight gain. I would definitely consider it an addiction similar to alcohol or drugs. According to Wikipedia Emotional eating is defined as overeating in order to relieve negative emotions. I would also add positive emotions as well.
Emotional eating is generally triggered by an onset of emotions were as physical hunger creeps up slowly or gradually for most people. That`s how you can tell the two apart. Some people choose to have ice cream during times of sadness, while others love to indulge in cookies, chips or pizza to fill a void in time (boredom) or loneliness. Does cake sounds familiar after an altercation with a friend, spouse, co-worker or family member?
We all experience feelings of happiness, sadness, anger and sometimes loneliness. The important aspect is learning how to react to these emotions. Do we try to understand them and respond in a healthy manner or choose to self-sabotage ourselves. Similar to alcohol and drugs, emotional eating can be like an escape or a temporary break from the challenges of day to day life. I’ve had a client’s mention that it can act as a numbing agent similar to taking an Epidural during pregnancy. An epidural needle provides temporary relief from pain associated with child birth. Along with the many feelings that come with emotional eating, stress seems to be a large player as well.
Here`s a scenario: You suddenly become under distress by something which is out of your control. (Yes out of your control). You decide to take a drive or a walk to the nearest fast food restaurant. Your mind is telling you not to go but the feeling of having some comfort food is too overwhelming. You place an order and consume something you know you shouldn’t have. After indulging signs of guilt start to set in. You ask yourself how and why did I end up here and where did I lose control? So to combat this guilt you make another stop over at the local bakery or ice cream shop to sooth your emotion of guiltiness. Does this sound like a repetitive cycle?
How to overcome emotional eating
If you suffer from emotional eating its very important to stay aware as you go through your days. Don’t give power to your emotions by feeding it with food. There are many chances and opportunities to take control of how we respond to our emotions on a daily basis. Start by paying attention to things that may set off your mood or trigger your emotions. As you become more familiar with triggers you`ll be able to retrain yourself to stop, walk away or ignore any cues that may affect you. It takes time to retrain your brain and thoughts so be patient. Here are a few tips to help you succeed.
- Replace stressful or emotional eating with a healthy activities or behaviors
- Talk to a close friend about the problem.
- Slowly sip on a cup of your favorite healthy tea.
- Control your breathing. This will help calm your mind and body.
- Keep track of your mood and emotional triggers by keeping a journal.
- Take some time for yourself and meditate.
To overcome emotional eating it takes daily consistent effort. But with practice you will be able to over come it. In next month’s newsletter Breaking food addiction ill cover more in-depth thoughts about why there`s such a gravitational pull towards falling back into the bottomless pit of consuming fast food.