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Learn how to break the cycle of emotional eating

There are times in our lives when eating is not just about satisfying a hunger or a craving. Sometimes, for various and often underlying reasons, we eat out of stress, discomfort, pain, and sadness or as a reward. This is referred to as emotional eating, and it’s the time of satisfaction that comes from trying to bury a feeling with food. The reality of this type of eating is that the emotional problems do not go away. In fact, eating just serves as a way of making you feel worse. It’s like eating a plate of emotional problems with a side of guilt.

Learning to recognize this type of behavior and the emotional eating triggers you have is the first step toward freeing yourself from food cravings and overeating. Get ready to change your habits to change your lifestyle.

Have you ever eaten dessert even though you were still full from dinner just because dessert always follows dinner? Or have you ever eaten a few, err, half a dozen brownies, when you were feeling down? These scenarios are examples of emotional eating. It’s when you use food to make yourself feel good, or better, even though your body was telling you not too. You were looking to fill an emotional space rather than satisfy your stomach.

If you are stressed your body is naturally going to trigger a craving for fast relief. Something salty or sweet, that will give you a boost of energy, is what your body wants. If you are bored, your body doesn’t really want anything, but your mind does. If you are in physical pain or have suffered an injury, you may eat to relieve that physical pain because you want the distraction.

Bad eating habits also play a huge role in the emotionality of it all. Some of these bad eating habits including eating in front of the television, in a car, in bed or standing up. They can be very hard to break. When you make note of the places you eat and the distractions happening while you are eating, it’s easier to break the cycle.

Hey, we’ve all used food from time to time as a way to boost ourselves up or as a reward. And when we eat to celebrate, especially with friends and family, that’s ok, too! However, when eating is used as the number one way to cope with a situation, when the impulse is too great and you can’t stay out of the kitchen or away from the buffet table, this unhealthy cycle of feeding the problem is at its worst. Standing in front of a refrigerator looking for something – anything – to fill a void or suppress your emotions doesn’t help things.

Remember that eating healthy, well-balanced meals are perfect for getting through the day. We need food. Our bodies need the energy and nutrients that food provides. So denying yourself food is never a good way to handle emotional eating. You cannot feed emotional hunger with food. While it may taste great in the moment, the underlying feelings are still there and eating didn’t make them go away.

It’s important to be able to separate food from emotions. Instead of using food as a weapon in which to battle your problems, fight fire with fire! Go for a walk. Take a few deep breaths or do some counting. Write in a journal. Just do something that will take your mind off wanting to eat.

Breaking bad cycles and changing the way we handle emotions and food is never easy. In fact, there will be times when it seems impossible to disconnect food and emotions. Remembering that you are human and you will make mistakes is helpful to succeeding. Keep a food journal and record the things you ate, at what time, and if at all, any reasons you can think of for eating at that time. This will be helpful to recognizing, and managing, your emotions. This can lead to a healthier, happier you!

Post by Staff of Forum Health Clarkston