Are You An Emotional Eater?
You've probably wondered if you are an emotional eater. Emotional overeating is one of the main causes of weight gain. It can also be one of the hardest to change. Find out how you can stop the temptation when you're eating out of boredom, frustration, or depression.
Are you stuck in a pattern of eating when you're not hungry? Do you use food to deal with feelings that have been rejected or ignored? This page contains free weight loss tips to help you decide if emotional eating is one of your main causes of weight gain.
An emotional eater is often unaware of this harmful behavior. If you're eating when not hungry, unaware of just how much you eat, a little here, a little there, you may be stuck in a pattern of eating when you're not hungry. Food feels like a friend when lonely, bored or stressed out. It is difficult to understand its forceful power and can be even harder to change.
Dealing with the real issues that trigger emotional overeating may be unpleasant and downright scary. It may bring up old wounds that are hard for you to acknowledge. Emotional overeating helps cushion wounds and encourages denial.
Unfortunately, food is only a temporary fix and does more harm than good. The problem is, that alone is not enough to end make you stop once you start.
Burying your emotions with food does not make them go away. The reason you overeat doesn't go away and the weight adds up. Food is only a temporary cushion between you and your emotions. It may numb unpleasant feelings, but can never help you find a new healthy relationship with food.
Stop wasting time in denial and focus on finding a solution.
Being aware of this unconscious cycle is the first meaningful step in losing weight. Acknowledging unconscious or stress related eating must take place before you can start making changes.
Creating a plan to overcome the emotional obstacle is the next logical step.
Some soul searching may be in order to get to the real reasons food is an emotional comfort. Sometimes professional help may be necessary to get to the heart of the problem.
Maybe using food as a buffer began in childhood. Using food for comfort often starts when very young and continues for reasons not understood. A child doesn't understand the process of instant gratification and creates unhealthy patterns with no connection between the food and comfort levels.
As we grow up, the reasons for overeating are no longer an issue, but the habit is secure and hard to get rid of. This is the main reason the connection between overeating and food are often unconscious.
A common example of emotional eating beginning in childhood often occurs by being rewarded with food. Many emotional eaters remember hearing "Eat all your dinner and clean that plate or you don't get any dessert" kind of reasoning. You did as you were told or went without that piece of chocolate cake!
Or how about "If you do a good job and clean your room, we will go get some ice cream." "I know that bruise really hurts! Here, have a cookie, it will make you feel better." A child's mind may naturally equate being good or feeling better with a sugary treat. Give some thought as to whether or not these examples may be one of your causes of weight gain.
No wonder overeating and rewards become synonymous in a young mind. As we grow up and take control of the food we eat, we are totally unaware of the connection of these rewards to overeating as an adult. We just know that eating something we like makes us "feel good".
Stress related eating is another common cause of emotional eating. Some people use alcohol or drugs to deal with stress and anxiety. Emotional eaters use food. When you are caught in a situation you cannot control, you may reach for a cookies or other favorite food to help alleviate uncomfortable emotions.
Stress can increase levels of cortisol. Known as "the stress hormone" cortisol has beneficial uses, but excessive levels of cortisol can wreak havoc if you're trying to lose weight. Among other things, high levels of cortisol can create cravings for salty and sweet foods.
Why should this concern you? And how is it related to weight loss? Research indicates that there is a connection between weight gain and the production of cortisol. How does this theory work? When you feel stressed, cortisol is released by the body in strong doses. Excess cortisol is one of the main causes of weight gain. Cortisol is used by your body cells. When overwhelmed by cortisol, the cells react by creating more fat cells.
If weight issues take center stage in your life and you've been unable to break free from the emotional eating cycle, spend some time thinking about your relationship to food as a child. Awareness is a good resource for learning what behaviors trigger overeating. You will find a starting place for understanding why you are a constangly eating when not hungry and how it is one of the real causes of weight gain.
As always, be kind to yourself and deal with overeating with patience. Emotional overeating is complex and requires baby steps to turn it around. Have a plan in place the next time you go to put something in your mouth rather than deal with the real problem.