Food often triggers many emotions in us. Food is linked to a place of comfort, happiness, and is linked to many relationships, traditions, customs, religions, and family gatherings. Sometimes, we may not even be physically hungry but feel compelled to eat something anyways. As we get older, we often find it harder break the negative habits that we have formed with eating over the course of our lives, such as eating while watching tv, getting a sucker after the doctors to help feel better, over-eating and mind-less eating at social events.
As adults, we are now so accustomed to using food to regulate our moods that we forget how much food we're actually eating until we've consumed almost the entire bag of chips and the whole pack of cookies. After this realization, we end up getting frustrated with ourselves and even unhealthier habits can stem from this. This ends up being a viscious cycle and can result in binge eating, bulimia, over-exercisng, metabolic damage, and so much more.
Research has shown that foods high in carbohydrates actually increase serotonin levels, which is a chemical in the brain that gives a calming effect. This explains why we get more comfort with our emotions when we eat carbohydrate-rich foods when we’re in a different state of mind.
The four emotional areas that contriubute the most to emotional eating are:
Sadness, Anger, Anxiety, & PMS.
I think that we can all relate that nothing feels better than sitting in front of the TV watching your favorite show with a tub of ice cream when you're sad. We ususally use some type of sweet food to combat sadness but once you get going on mindlessly splurging on some of your favorite ice cream, it can be very hard to stop. Normally, once you realize that you have overeaten and consumed way more calories than your body needs, you end up not only feeling like crap, but probably feeling even crappier than you did before you ate the ice cream.
If you're feeling sad, try healthier alternatives like talking out the situation. Calling a close friend or family member to vent about something unfortunate in your life could really help you cope with the situation more than eating.
You could also resort to exercising to stimulate some endorphins in your brain. Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise can make you feel a whole lot better, and has been proven to benifit people countless times.
When we force in food in order to cope with emotions such as anger, it can leave us feeling even angrier with ourselves after we have emotionally binged out on junk food. Anger-eating can be a very unhealthy cycle and can be very hard to break. Feelings of embarrassment and guilt can pile on top of your anger after an emotional bout with eating.
One way to deal with angry eating is to try and calm down as best as you can. Take some deep breaths and gather your emotions. Tune in and figure out what really made you angry and how you can cope with these situations. Take yourself away from the kitchen or contact with food and take time for yourself.
Another thing you can do is take it to the weights. Working out while angry can really increase your exertion, but be careful! You defintiely don't want to hurt yourself while exercising. You can try something fun like a kickboxing class and take your anger out on the heavy bag!
When you feel anxious, it can be hard to calm down and relax. Feelings of stress can easily overwhelm you and you can get really nervous in a short amount of time. When anxious, people tend to reach for basically anything and everything. From sweet to salty.
To combat this, try doing something thats calming. Resist the urge to eat something and do something that you enjoy. This could be from things like going on a walk, listening to your favorite music, getting some fresh air, playing with your pet, lighting some candles and making a calm enviornment and so on.
Sleep also helps a lot with anxiety. Research has shown that individuals who get enough sleep are less likely to be stressed out. Try to get atleast 8-10 hours of sleep per night.
Every single girl experiences this and it is probably one of the worst times to emotional eat. PMS can also cause feelings like the ones listed above and when they're combined it can leave you in a very bad situation. When you're on your period, emotional eating can be one of the biggest evils to combat, and cravings surely do not help.
In an effort to minimize overeating on the time of the month, try eating healthier, smaller meals throughout the day to help curve your cravings and appetite. Also try drinking hot herbal teas and drink plenty of water.
You could also take a hot bath to help minimize cramping and put you in a more relaxed state of mind. Unfortunately, periods are not something that we can avoid, so make sure that you're doing your best to feel your best during this time.
I hope this blog helps you if you deal with emotional eating! Take into consideration how to cope with these feelings because everybody is different and deals with these feelings differently!