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Feeding your feelings

Category: Foods, Hunger
20 February 2010, Comments: 7

I spent the past few days in all day meetings and am now reaping the benefits of poor eating, caffeine overdose, dehydration, lack of sleep and no exercise… I look like crap and am coughing up my lungs… lovely. I found myself eating for no reason other than that food was available and accessible. I was loading up on coffee, eating the chocolate kisses and Oreo cookies, and even found myself opening a can of Dr. Pepper that's where I drew the line, what the heck am I doing?! I realized that even though I knew better, I was falling into the trap of "Emotional Eating", and so was everyone around the room. As people ate their cookies and drank their sodas they continued to say they never eat like this and can't figure out why they just want to eat. Unfortunately it happens to the best of us. Experts say that 75% of overeating is caused by emotions. Emotional eating doesn't mean you are heartbroken and on the couch with a tub of ice cream, it means that you are eating in response to emotion rather than hunger. Emotions could range from joy, boredom, sadness, stress or distraction. The first step is to identify eating triggers by keeping a detailed food journal documenting thoughts, feelings, stressors, situations and emotions associated with when and what you eat, quite often they fall into one or more of the following 5 categories:

Situations and emotions that trigger us to eat fall into five main categories.

  • Social. Eating when around other people. For example, excessive eating can result from being encouraged by others to eat; eating to fit in; arguing; or feelings of inadequacy around other people.
  • Emotional. Eating in response to boredom, stress, fatigue, tension, depression, anger, anxiety, or loneliness as a way to "fill the void."
  • Situational. Eating because the opportunity is there. For example, at a restaurant, seeing an advertisement for a particular food, passing by a bakery. Eating may also be associated with certain activities such as watching TV, going to the movies or a sporting event, etc.
  • Thoughts. Eating as a result of negative self-worth or making excuses for eating. For example, scolding oneself for looks or a lack of will power.
  • Physiological. Eating in response to physical cues. For example, increased hunger due to skipping meals or eating to cure headaches or other pain.

A common situation is eating to procrastinate or stay alert at work. I learned from experience this week that it doesn't work (at least not for me). With each Oreo cookie I ate, my attention span decreased and I had a huge headache from the sugar!

Once you know your patterns, the next step is to break them by finding alternative ways to manage your emotions. Sometimes it can be as simple as substituting the junk food for more nutritious food. The most important thing to remember is not to make yourself wrong for giving in to comfort food. As always you are one meal away from getting back on track. Recognizing your habits is key to changing them, as with everything you can't get where you want to go if you don't know where you are starting.

Comments…

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7 responses on “Feeding your feelings

  1. smita says:

    Wow, glad to know I wasn’t alone with the emotional eating this week! I just realized why I’ve had headaches all week. I loaded up on all the bad stuff you can imagine everyday this week but I’m going to try to get back on it too!

  2. AJ says:

    Yep Smita, you’re always one meal away from being back on. Way to go!

  3. Ces says:

    I was relieved to see this after coming back from a road trip to Tahoe with the fam… we ate nothing but junk food on the road and when we stopped to eat real meals, well lets just say it wasn’t any better.
    I’m really feelin it today! I’m tired, I have a headache, I feel dehydrated, and most of all I feel 10 pounds heavier!

  4. AJ says:

    Ces, you feel 10 lbs heavier, but you probably aren’t. Get back on girl!!

  5. Ces says:

    Thanks AJ! I’m sure its more like 5:)

  6. ritu says:

    whatever it is, its temporary. As long as you are aware and can get back on the plan vs falling into a downward spiral. Looks like you are aware and back on Ces… nice job!

  7. None worked for me ‘coz even if I’m depressed and with those individuals who ate a lot, still my mind and body won’t allow me to eat that much… really frustrating.

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