How You Can Overcome Emotional Eating

We’ve all been there. You get some bad news, a parking ticket or have a fight with a friend or family member, and what’s the first thing you want to do? If you’re like me, some days hit the snack aisle.

What is emotional eating?

Emotional eating is the consumption of food — usually “comfort” food or junk foods — in response to feelings in place of actual hunger. Feelings caused by emotions formulated to make us believe that food can bring us comfort.

Why you often want to eat the worst foods when you have an emotional eating episode

According to one study, there are various biological factors which link mood, food intake, and brain signaling that trigger the peripheral and central nervous systems as we eat. In more simplistic terms, when you take that first bite out of a piece of cake, your body releases dopamine, which stimulates the area of your brain that tells you that you feel pleasure.

Where’s the harm in seeking comfort in food?

All you want is to feel better, so if that piece of candy or cake makes you feel better, what’s the problem? The problem is that it likely doesn’t stop at one piece, and once you’ve finished swallowing that food your remorse can kicks in, and you feel more powerless than before.

Do you suffer from emotional eating?

The first step to overcoming your emotional eating habit is to admit that you have it. If you think you have an emotional issue with eating, you can complete an assessment, like this one from Psychology Today or seek the help of a professional. A few indications that you may be suffering from emotional eating include:

  • You eat when you’re not hungry or “unconsciously”.
  • You use food as your top source of pleasure.
  • You have a toxic relationship with your body image.

I think I am an emotional eater. What are some ways I can overcome my emotional eating?

Unfortunately, there is no magic pill or solution to stop your emotional eating cycles. The only way to actively stop emotional eating is first to be aware of it, and second, find other ways to manage your reaction to triggering situations. Here are a few of the ways you can manage your emotional eating.

  1. Confide in someone you can trust who can help during times of stress and anxiety
  2. Find ways to reward yourself that have nothing to do with eating. Evaluate other things in your life that bring you pleasure and turn to those in times of need.
  3. Be present and allow yourself to feel. Since feelings such as boredom, anxiety, and sadness trigger some emotional eating episodes, allow yourself to process emotions thoroughly before turning to an external solution

When you become aware of your triggers, you can then seek out a better plan of action to stop feeling helpless and start your healing process going forward.

If you are struggling with emotional eating, you will want to check out my free eBook “How To Digest (And Still Save Room For Sanity!)”

This post was originally featured on Huffington Post.

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BeetsPerMinute | Emotional Eating

When you take that first bite, your body releases dopamine, which stimulates the area of your brain that tells you that you feel pleasure.

We’ve all been there, right? You get some crappy news, you get a parking ticket, or have a fight with a friend or family member, and what’s the first thing you want to do? If you’re like me, some days hit the snack aisle.

What is emotional eating?

Emotional eating is the practice of consuming large quantities of food — usually “comfort” food or junk foods — in response to feelings in place of actual hunger. Emotions formulated to make us believe the food can bring us comfort is what causes these spells of eating.

What triggers emotional eating

In short, anything that makes you feel out of control. A rude customer, a fight with a friend, or a high heating bill could be the cause. Not every person is affected in this way, however, but people with control issues linked to anxiety, depression, or addiction can be at higher risk for this behavior to kick in.

Why you always want to eat the worst foods when you have an emotional eating episode

Simply stated, your body craves highly refined carbohydrates, sugar, salt, and fat, because they are pleasing to us. We want french fries, chocolate cupcakes, and pizza because the minute we bite into these foods, they go straight to our heads. When you take that first bite out of a piece of cake, your body releases the “feel good” chemical, dopamine, which stimulates the area of your brain that tells you that you feel pleasure and even euphoria! You want to feel better so if that piece of candy or cake makes you feel better, what’s the problem? The big deal is that it rarely ever stops at one piece, and once you’ve finished swallowing that food your remorse kicks in, and you feel more powerless than before.

Do you suffer from emotional eating

The first step to stopping your emotional eating habit is to admit that you have it. How can you assess whether or not you emotionally eat?

You eat when you’re not hungry

You have a negative relationship with your body image

You fabricate the truth when it comes to how much you eat

You feel guilt after eating certain foods or amounts.

I am an emotional eater. Now what?

I wish I could say it’s easy – or that there’s a magic herb or book or something to help you stop, but I can’t. The only way to actively stop your emotional eating is to be aware of it and to find other ways to feel good. Obviously, it’s easier to buy a milkshake when you’re feeling stressed or depressed than it is to jump on a treadmill or contort your body like a pretzel doing yoga, but there are other ways to manage this. Confide in someone you trust who can help you when you’re feeling stressed, take a walk, or go on BuzzFeed and look at pictures of cute otters (seriously, this is one of the ways I deal with my EE). The bottom line is: Emotional eating is just as controllable as it is controlling. When you become aware of your triggers, you can then seek out a plan of action to stop yourself from feeling helpless.

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Do you suffer from emotional eating?  How do you cope?

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