Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Emotional Eating - How To Overcome It

Teenage boy eating pizza

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 feel better.

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 solution?

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 potatoes. 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.
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