Everybody deals with stressful and emotional situations in different ways. Some people may go for long runs, some may shut out the world, and others may turn to food. This reliance on food can cause excess caloric intake and lead to weight gain. Unwanted weight gain can start this cycle of emotional eating all over again. We tend to attribute emotional eating to stress and feelings of not having control of your life. However, it can also arise from boredom or being in social settings.
Our bodies are astonishing. When we take part in emotional eating, we usually turn to a select type of food. Let’s say cookies, for example. Every time we eat cookies to cope with emotions, our body releases dopamine- a feel good hormone. Our body becomes classically conditioned to connect cookies with relief or happiness and may start to lose track of satiety cues. In other words, we lose our perception of how full we are and we begin to eat these cookies in excess.
What are some ways that we can work to combat emotional eating?
Meet with a Dietitian to focus on why you are experiencing emotional eating. Getting to the root of the problem is the most successful way in combating this cycle.
Try to change your food of choice. It may not feel “right” to eat fruit and nut butter instead of cookies, but you will be receiving vitamins and nutrients that your body needs in the long run. Foods that are high in antioxidants have been shown to have calming effects on our body.
Consider your long-term weight-related goals and how these decisions may be affecting that. Thinking about your ultimate goal may aid you in your food choices when you are in an emotional situation.
How do you deal with emotional eating? Let us know at our Sweet Life Wellness Page!
Set up a meeting with Kay if you feel that you are experiencing emotional eating.
Sweet Life Wellness Student Intern
Dietetics student at University of Maryland-College Park