Emotional Eating Lakewood Counselor
“When Your Eating Habits Get Out of Hand” Emotional Eating- Lakewood Addiction Counselor
As a member of our society member, you may or may not notice that we are bombarded with media delivery and general messages that tell us how to look, dress, feel, and act. Culture is an important factor in the decisions we make. One of the most distinctive messages of American culture is that of our eating behaviors. We see hidden messages in magazines, photos, posts on social media that tell us what beauty is this skinny, healthy, and pretty, right? Then come along the diet ads, shakes, ect. Often these messages are mixed and gives the impression that dieting is “normal”, not eating certain foods or restricting certain foods will help one loose weight. There are so many fad diets and confusion about the purpose, that one often gets the idea to keep trying different methods or often restricting intake so much that the emotional wellness, that the mental, emotional, and physical parts of a person are affected. So, when you stop your diet, whats the first thing you do? EAT! You eat what you couldn’t eat when you were on the diet, you consume what makes you happy and over-consume these too!
Eating is a required part of a balanced mind and body. Without the nutrition of food, the body is put into a mode of starvation causing the bodies lack of nutrients and a slew of other effects on the body. I am sure that we can all agree that this information is common knowledge.
So, what happens when people use food as coping?? Eating whatever you want, that sounds fantastic, “I’ll have two!” When food is used as coping, it is referred to as, Emotional Eating.
Emotional Eating – We get it eating is a necessity in life but there are many ways in which people use eating to cope that is dangerous for the body and to the psyche.
Emotional eating can be:
Eating extra food when you do not really have room or eating to the point of feeling full every meal
Eating when you are stressed
Eating solely because you are stressed
Eating to feel in control or feel supported
Feeling powerless when starting to eat
Eating as a reward.
This type of pattern can become your worst enemy. There are many ways in which the body responds to eating. The most important, in my opinion, is that food acts as an immediate response to the rewards centers in our brain. I will veer away from using scientific terms so that one can understanding the rewards of eating. When we taste food or an enjoyable flavor, our brain reacts to the taste and activates the pleasure centers of our brain.
You know the slogan for Pringles, “Once you pop, you can’t stop”, there is some truth to that. When the pleasure center of the brain is activated, we are motivated and/or seeking to obtain the stimulus to produce the pleasurable feeling again. In day to day activities, our reward centers are activated by things such as helping others, being in love, or other general activities, both positive and negative, that cause pleasure or cause excitement. Such activities, flood the brain with a chemical called dopamine. When your brain rewards you with dopamine, its an enjoyable feeling!
When eating is used as a way to cope with the stresses of life, it feels comforting, enjoyable, and your brain is responding to the flavors. So, that bowl of ice cream you like to enjoy gets intensified by the comfort it provides AND the flavor your brain is saying, “I like this!” Now, you can begin to see how it is hard to stop eating those chips, or telling yourself no when you think, “just one more piece of pizza”. The detrimental affects of emotional eating can develop unhealthy cravings that cost you a lot of money, regrets, and failures to stay maintain healthy balance.
“This article describes exactly what I do! What should I do?”
Evaluate emotional eating- Who, what, where, when, and why?
Who is around when you give into emotional eating, are you alone, are you triggered by others, do you have a friend that you know will help you get what you want?
What foods do you crave the most. What parts connects with you the most, what is your weakness.
Where, home, work, lunch, family home, vacation, ect.
When do you crave or cave (time of day, events, anticipating something.
When answers the others of the Who, What, When, and Where, that may help you answer your Why. Lastly, why this is one of the most important insight to coping with food, why?Answering the why, requires you to stop and think, take a moment to evaluate how you feel and what is going on in your body, where you feel the urges.
If you struggle with emotional eating, you may want to explore the emotions of your eating patterns. Please feel free to call +1 (720) 295-9522 for a consultation. If outside of the Lakewood, CO or Denver Metro area, go to https://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/
to locate a therapist in your area.