Emotional Eating Does Not Always Have A Negative Association
Believe it or not, emotional eating can also occur when feeling happy.
For instance, eating is tied to your emotions when we use food as a reward for achieving a promotion at work or receiving a good grade at school.
It also occurs in social situations such as weddings or when going out to eat with friends, where social pressures can cause you to emotionally eat.
Last, emotional eating takes place when feeling bored. How many times have you reached for a chocolate bar just because it is there? And how many times have you grabbed a bag of potato chips or some popcorn while watching a movie?
Perhaps you made that reach because you simply had nothing else to do. Maybe eating chips while watching your favourite movie or tv show just feels great. Whichever is the case, you simply eat for reasons other than hunger, and the trigger behind these bouts of eating is related to your emotions.
Mental Hack #: Leveraging Social
Your social networks can fuel your food addiction and contribute to being overweight.
A study done in the New England Journal of Medicine found that social networks can promote obesity people with friends, siblings and spouses who are obese are much more likely to be obese themselves.
Now, although this wasnt in reference to online social networks , there is evidence that shows that youre many times more likely to share the same interests as your friends.
This is just the long way of saying that people have a huge influence over your success or failure, and youre likely to end up like the people around you in more than one way.
You can leverage the internet social spheres in your favor too. There are a couple innovative sites to help you integrate a positive social environment with your own personal goals.
Fitocracy in a nutshell: Its health and fitness, gamified. You earn points for doing quests , and then you can level up and reach new levels.
It integrates with a social feed like facebook, and lets others motivate and help each other out.
Stickk in a nutshell: Stickk is another way to socially integrate betting with attaining your own goals.
Its based on the whole carrot and stick theory of motivation that to motivate people, you can offer them incentives , or punish them.
The key is to pick a charity you hate so much that youd rather die than see your money go there
Signs Of Food Addiction
Researchers at Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Science & Policy have developed a questionnaire to identify people with food addictions.
Here’s a sample of questions that can help determine if you have a food addiction. Do these actions apply to you? Do you:
- End up eating more than planned when you start eating certain foods
- Keep eating certain foods even if you’re no longer hungry
- Eat to the point of feeling ill
- Worry about not eating certain types of foods or worry about cutting down on certain types of foods
- When certain foods aren’t available, go out of your way to obtain them
The questionnaire also asks about the impact of your relationship with food on your personal life. Ask yourself if these situations apply to you:
- You eat certain foods so often or in such large amounts that you start eating food instead of working, spending time with the family, or doing recreational activities.
- You avoid professional or social situations where certain foods are available because of fear of overeating.
- You have problems functioning effectively at your job or school because of food and eating.
The questionnaire asks about psychological withdrawal symptoms. For example, when you cut down on certain foods , do you have symptoms such as:
- Other physical symptoms
The questionnaire also tries to gauge the impact of food decisions on your emotions. Do these situations apply to you?
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Mental Hack #: Become Your Own Coach
Anyone with a chronic health problem has quickly learned that they need to become their own expert.
Beyond just learning everything on the subject, you need to understand your own vulnerabilities, and start experimenting.
Its almost impossible to really come up with a perfect diet for every person, or a perfect system for every person which is why experimentation is so important.
For example, if you know that certain foods make you over eat every time you know you have a personal kryptonite and you should stay away from them.
So how specifically do you experiment and become your own expert?
Use something that I call definitive documents.
Ive unfortunately had a number of various health problems in my life that were chronic and very difficult to solve by western doctors. Usually there were many pieces to the puzzle, and I was left experimenting on my own.
For many of you this will be the same case. Over the years, I found myself creating these word documents called definitive documents where I could document every piece of the puzzle I was trying to solve:
Sample definitive document when I had sleep issues
What do you write in them? Everything you know.
For emotional eaters and people that are addicted to food, keep track of the following things:
We all need to become our own expert, particularly if we have a long-standing chronic problem often there are many, many interconnected pieces that one person cannot give you.
Final Thoughts On Overcoming Food Addiction
In conclusion, food addiction is a real problem that can hurt food addicts and their loved ones. Maintaining recovery all comes down to maintaining healthy habits. If food addiction is causing problems in your life, its time to take steps to overcome it. With the help of family members, friends, support groups, and professionals, you can overcome food addiction for good.
Katelyn Redfoot is an independent content writer based in North Carolina who offers ghostwriting, copywriting, blogging, and social media services. As a health and wellness advocate, she loves learning from and helping clients across the world share creative, relatable, and helpful content. Her goal is soon to take her writing on the road, traveling in a van with her fiance, Jason, and their dogs, Max and Summit.
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Emotional Eating Is More Complicated Than Just Satisfying Physical Hunger
Whats more, the foods that emotional eaters consume are not used for sustenance and the acquisition of nutrients.
Instead, these comfort foods are eaten to fill an emotional hunger, a void of some sort. According to MedicineNet.com, emotional eaters crave foods such as ice cream, cookies, chocolate, chips, French fries, and pizzaall highly-palatable foods that provide a quick feel-good factor.
Emotional Eating And Ads
Moreover, emotional eating has been conditioned by our TV viewing habits, particularly by ads.
That is, advertising has been instrumental in the positive association we develop with highly palatable but unhealthy foods. Such chronic exposure certainly shapes our thinking.
As a result, many of us adopt the expected behaviour portrayed in these ads.
Whatever the reason you emotionally eat, the end result is often the same. The solution is always only temporary and at the end of it all, you will only add on another emotion, and that is guilt over what and how much you have eaten. This could end up throwing you into a vicious cycle that gets endlessly repeated, potentially harming your health and causing weight gain.
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Understand & Avoid Emotional Triggers
Like other addictions, if you can learn to understand the emotional triggers that cause you to eat and how to avoid them you can cut your emotional eating habits in half. Some of the most common triggers that may be resulting in your emotional eating habits include stress, discomfort, boredom, loneliness, childhood habits such as rewards or other habits taught to you as a child or eating socially.
Its A Serious Problem
Though the term addiction is often thrown around lightly, having a true addiction is a serious condition that typically requires treatment to overcome.
The symptoms and thought processes associated with food addiction are similar to those of drug abuse. Its just a different substance, and the social consequences may be less severe.
Food addiction can cause physical harm and lead to chronic health conditions like obesity and type 2 diabetes .
In addition, it may negatively impact a persons self-esteem and self-image, making them unhappy with their body.
As with other addictions, food addiction may take an emotional toll and increase a persons risk of premature death.
Food addiction increases the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Excessive weight may also affect a persons self-esteem.
Completely avoiding junk foods may seem impossible. Theyre everywhere and a major part of modern culture.
However, in some cases, entirely abstaining from certain trigger foods can become necessary.
Once the firm decision to never eat these foods again is made, avoiding them may become easier, as the need to justify eating or not eating them is eliminated. Cravings may also disappear or decrease significantly.
Consider writing a list of pros and cons to think through the decision.
Write everything down no matter how peculiar or vain it may seem. Then compare the two lists and ask if its worth it.
If the answer is a resounding yes, be assured that its the right decision.
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What Does That Have To Do With Emotional Eating
For starters, theres a whole lot of emotion involved in food addiction! Yes, there are the cravings that seem to be almost physical, but theres probably a nagging feeling that sets off a binge . Maybe you can pinpoint it at the time, maybe you cant.
Food addiction and emotional eating can feel a little like an endless cycle at times.
Theres anxiety around not eating the foods you want. You eat them. You feel depressed, guilty, or you hate yourself for giving in. That creates a whole new round of negative emotions and guess what? You want to eat more to soothe them. Vicious, right?
The physical body and the mind are linked together, so its no wonder that the physical act of eating can sometimes become a way of dealing with the troubles on your mind.
You can break the cycle.
Your mind and body will still be linked, of course, but theyll both become fresher and lighter. You know how the Beauty Detox books talk about your digestive system getting all gunked up from toxins? Similar situation herein your mind.
Yes, its hard at first, but: It. Is. Possible.
Keep in mind that just because you give in to emotional eating sometimes, that doesnt mean youre addicted to food. The tips Ill share in a minute will help you avoid emotional eating, too, though, so even if youve decided youre not addicted per se, keep reading.
What Happens When You Get What You Want: Giving In To Addiction
As with just about any kind of addiction, your brain gets a shock of feel-good dopamine when you eat what youre craving. You may feel nearly euphoric , for a minute once you finally give in, but the feeling doesnt last.
Youve probably experienced something similar , before. Everyone has cravings. You know the feeling you get when you finally satisfy that craving? Imagine that, amplified and much more difficult to satiate.
I found a study that suggests food addiction works in the same way as drug or alcohol addiction. Not only do certain foods seem irresistible and make you feel good for a minute, but it takes more and more of them over time to satiate your craving. Thats why you may not be able to stop at one cookie, one slice of pizza, or a single handful of chips.
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A Registered Dietitian Shares Tips To Help You Identify Emotional Triggers To Overeating
If you respond to any emotional situationhappy or sadby overeating, and you want to stop, there are solutions. But youre not going to find them in your refrigerator, on a pastry cart, or in a restaurant. Youll have to look deeper. First step: Learn to recognize and acknowledge emotional overeating for what it is so you can start eating to satisfy real hunger, and not give in to a habit of using food to distract yourself from dealing with feelings.
Emotional Eating Is The Use Of Food And Food Thoughts As A Distraction From Any Thought Feeling Or Situation You Would Rather Not Tolerate Binge Eating On Carbs Works That’s Why We Keep Doing It
If you are an Emotional Eater you have probably developed a habit of using food to distract, self-soothe, briefly check-out, and/or seek some relief from the present moments of your life. You may have FOOD THOUGHTS to escape any or all intensity of feeling.
If I do not want to be mindful, I can escape, go mindless with a food thought.
You may be conscious of this coping strategyor you may not yet be aware why you are often food focused despite wishing you were not. Here are some examples of what emotional eating might look like.
- Feeling bored? You think of the ice cream in the freezer instead.
- Feeling angry with your boss? Suddenly you find youre thinking about the cookies in the break room. Thinking about the cookies feels much better to you than staying focused on how angry you are at your boss!
- Kids driving you crazy? Flash on the image of a McDonalds chocolate shake and before you even realize it youre in the drive-through lane.
- You just found out youre getting the promotion youve wanted for over a year. Youre really excited! Its great news! But how are you going to handle all that extra responsibility? FOOD THOUGHT!!!
- Its Friday evening and youre facing a weekend with no plans. The next thing you know youre on the phone ordering a large pizza.
- I want to eat something sweet. I cant stand fighting this feeling anymore. Its just too hard. It is just easier to give in and start again tomorrow.
Why Do Some of Us Come to Use Food to Regulate Mood?
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Food And Positive Emotions
As alluded to earlier, food can also be used when feeling positive emotions.
It can serve as a reward for a job well done at work, or a difficult task accomplished. These behaviours are often learned in childhood and carried through adolescence and adulthood.
For example, a baby cries when hungry or dissatisfied and gets fed, changed, played with, and comforted by, a parent or guardian in response to the cry.
Later, in adolescence, you may receive a reprimand and not be allowed to have dessert after supper, when you do something perceived as bad. Conversely, you may be rewarded with a treat for doing something well.
How many times have your parents or guardians rewarded a high mark on a test with a trip to Dairy Queen or McDonalds?
Associating food with a job well done is a dangerous form of operant conditioning. According to Simply Psychology, operant conditioning is a method of learning that occurs through rewards and punishments for behaviour.
Through operant conditioning, an individual makes an association between a particular behaviour and a consequence . Food can come to be associated as comfort and therefore a go-to when feeling yourself in need of some comfort. As pioneered by the work of B.F. Skinner, positive reinforcement strengthens a behaviour by providing a consequence an individual finds rewarding.
Tips In Overcoming Food Addiction
For food addiction recovery, it will take a lot of willpower and sacrifice to overcome it. It may take weeks or months, but you have to believe in yourself to overcome this. Everybody has different food cravings, and breaking food addiction is going to be different for everybody. But here are some tips you can start with:
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When Should You Seek Professional Help
If you feel out of control with your emotional eating or youve tried several of the tactics above with little success, it might be time to check in with a therapist or join an emotional eating support group. You dont need to go through this alone! A community or professional can help identify whats causing your emotional eating and work with you on the best solutions to address it. They can also determine if your emotional eating is a diagnosable eating disorder and get you the help that you need.
Not sure where to turn? Schedule a visit with your doctor and ask them for resources or a referral to a professional who can help.
The Challenges Of Understanding And Overcoming Food Addiction
Whether food addiction is real is a controversial topic among experts. First and foremost, food addiction is not an official medical condition despite addictive food behaviors being linked to medical conditions like binge eating disorder and obesity.
Secondly, while food addiction is a behavioral addiction, overeating doesnt alter the state of a persons mind like drugs do. There is also no single food ingredient that is addictive, even though certain foods contain a combination of ingredients that are typically more problematic for compulsive overeaters.
Despite the debates among experts, no formal diagnosis is necessary to see that food can be problematic. But unfortunately, these scientific unknowns are partly why recovery from food addiction can seem just as complicated as food addiction itself. Some people claim that recovering from food addiction is more difficult than other types of addiction. Alcoholics, for example, may completely stop drinking alcohol. However, people who are addicted to food still need calories every day.
Regardless, overcoming food addiction is entirely possible. A psychologist, doctor, or nutritionist with experience and knowledge in food addiction can help.
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