Today I wanted to talk about something that has been an issue for myself and many other people I know for a long long time now – Emotional Eating.
As a female who has suffered (and still occasionally do) from emotional eating – or what is also known as stressful eating – I can relate and understand how defeated and down one may feel.
We’ve all had one of those days where you just feeling down and perhaps even a little gloomy. Then what did you do next? Chances are, you probably ate something along the lines of sugary goods (candy, chocolate), baked goods (doughnuts, pastries), or ice cream for a “pick-me-up”. This is the response from our brain’s neurochemistry telling us that we need those foods to make you happy. The reason behind that is because these foods trigger a release of dopamine – a brain chemical that makes us feel a burst of pleasure and satisfaction.
There are many causes behind emotional eating, but in simple terms: emotional eating is something our brain has learned to adapt over time. It’s essentially a system that relies on “dopamine highs” from the foods we eat to make us feel happy and satisfied.
If you haven’t noticed, we tend to eat to reward ourselves – whether we’re sad, angry, or happy.
As it happens more over time, it develops into a habit and your body is going to rely and demand more and more of these simple sugared, empty calorie foods to get that dopamine high.
We’ve all got things in our daily lives that stress us out, and emotional eating is one of the many things we turn to to suppress and forget those thoughts. But is there a way to get out of this. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come easily.
Emotional eating is caused by many different things: stress, boredom, influences from your environment, previous bad experiences with food, trying to cope with emotions, etc.
To overcome emotional eating, not only do you need to identify the trigger, but you also need to resort to other alternatives that help you control your emotions. Try calling a friend, going for a run, or doing some light reading – like this article :). The method that I have found that personally works best is implementing healthy lifestyle habits. Eating healthier, doing regular exercise allows you to be in control of both your physical health and mental health.
During physical activity different hormones such as feel-good endorphins (which make you happier), dopamine (a pleasure chemical that helps with prevent overeating and weight gain), and seretonin (helps with your sleeping) are released. The overall benefits from these hormones can help you curb cravings and relieve you from feeling emotionally upset.
Implementing physical activity into my life has allowed me to control my eating habits and allowed me to reduce the number of emotional eating episodes I experience. Whenever I feel that itch to grab a cookie or a chocolate bar, I get up and start moving – whether that’s going to the gym, doing some push ups.
In order to overcome emotional eating, you’re going to have to stop letting it control you, and be in control over it.
I hope this has helped you understand more about emotional eating, and that you can overcome it and be in control once again.
Have yourself a great weekend 🙂