Emotional Eating: When Food = Love

Dec. 10, 2014
donuts

We don’t always eat simply to satisfy hunger. We also sometimes turn to food for comfort, stress relief or as a reward. Unfortunately, emotional eating is only a temporary fix for emotional problems, and the act is often followed by feelings of shame or guilt. Learning to recognize triggers is the first step to changing your coping strategies to healthier behaviors.

Esperanza Magazine recently had an article about how to break the cycle of compulsive eating. Here are a few tips:

  • Address your feelings. To break the pattern, you have to be willing to recognize and experience unpleasant emotions, to “sit with” those emotions instead of trying to avoid them. This is often referred to as “mindfulness.” Mindfulness helps to identify when a trigger is starting, and focus on what you’re trying to escape from.
  • Eat mindfully. Mindfulness applies to a wide array of daily activities, including eating. Paying close attention to when you are actually physically hungry helps you tune into your body. Honor the signals your body gives you. If you find yourself wanting to eat when you are not hungry, ask yourself what you’re emotionally experiencing and try use healthy alternatives such as journaling or self-soothing to attend to your needs.
  • Change your diet. Yes, carbs, fat, salt and sugar taste better, but there’s a reason they should be moderated: healthy foods strengthens your defenses against stress and mood dysregulation, decreasing the urge to compulsively eat. Plus, they help the brain’s neurotransmitter receptors function, which allows medication to work better.  We all know the drill: Aim for a diet that contains lean protein, whole grains, healthy fat, and a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Click here to read the article for more tips.

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