By Nancy Desjardins, R.N.C.P.
Sometimes, we eat, binge, scarf or pig-out when we’re upset, angry or celebrating something. Some of us go for the chocolate ice cream, while others snatch the chips and dip. Some go for deep-fried chicken, and others prefer BBQ ribs. No matter what your “comfort food” is or how often you eat because of emotional reasons and not hunger pangs, you’re not doing yourself any good.
Does it really make you feel better to down that pint of ice cream? What is it that compels some of us to try to eat our miseries away? After all, nine times out of ten, we end up feeling guilty later.
While many of us eat, not because we’re especially hungry, but because we’re out with friends, or like the looks of that big, juicy steak, or we just can’t resist Mom’s cheesecake, many of us also lose control over our willpower and our ability to say ‘No’.
So whether you’re eating when you’re not hungry because you want the companionship, or because you’re unhappy, anxious or afraid, the first step toward overcoming emotional eating is to determine its source.
Many people go beyond the occasional “comfort food” binges and become addicted to certain types of food. Gotta have a pizza with the works after a particularly bad day at work, or gobble down that package of cookies after an argument with your husband or wife? Ever wonder why the foods we ultimately reach for are bad for us?
They’re the ones loaded with sugar, carbs, and fat. When we’re upset, how many of us jump in the car and zoom off to a fast food restaurant to drown our woes in greasy burgers and fries, topped off with a milkshake no less?
Most of us don’t eat only when we’re hungry anymore. We eat because the clock tells us to, or because food is ever present in our society.
When we’re upset, it’s easy to find a place that’s open, willing and able to cater to our food desires.
So how do you put a stop to emotional eating?
The next time you’re upset, and before you reach for the pint of ice cream or super-size those fries, think about the guilt you’re going to feel later on. Don’t give in to the craving, or to the emotion that drove you to food in the first place.
If you’re angry with your husband, don’t punish yourself. If you’re frustrated with your boss, don’t take it out on your body. Find a healthier outlet for anger and frustration.
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Here are a few things you can do the next time you get upset.
- Wait five minutes. That’s easy enough, isn’t it? Many times, just the act of waiting is enough to overcome our desire to binge on sugars, carbs and fat.
- Think about your long-term health. After all, when you succumb to binge eating, you’re only punishing yourself.
- Find different foods to reach for when you’re upset. You can get pleasure out of eating a juicy apple.
- Find positive, healthy ways to fight your emotions and learn new habits. Sure, it’s going to be difficult and oftentimes frustrating, but you’ll soon begin to feel much better. Take it one day at a time. Expect to fail once in a while and when you do, don’t beat yourself up over it. Just get back on track. Pretty soon, you’ll be amazed at the changes you feel inside and see outside.
Emotional eating is a very powerful habit. Many of us think that if we can’t indulge when we’re upset, we’re somehow sacrificing pleasure and comfort. However, the long-term results of such attitudes leave most of us overweight, miserable and quite discontent.
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