Emotions and food are often intertwined. But, how much and to what extent? I watch the biggest looser and it seems they are always addressing an underlying problem. What makes us tick? Why can it be easier from some than others? Let's look into this a little deeper.
Start by identifying your emotional issues related to food so that you're prepared for the challenges. Emotional eating is the practice of consuming large quantities of food -- usually "comfort" or junk foods -- in response to feelings instead of hunger. Experts estimate that 75% of overeating is caused by emotions.
Many of us learn that food can bring comfort, at least in the short-term. As a result, we often turn to food to heal emotional problems. Eating becomes a habit preventing us from learning skills that can effectively resolve our emotional distress.
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.
What does loving and losing a dad have to do with emotional eating? Everything. Because it's not just the biggest losses we try to avoid by eating. It's also the everyday deaths--the disappointments, the illnesses, the rejections, the hurt we feel when life does not turn out the way we'd hoped. Once we realize that we will survive the sadness and hurt, we don't have to deaden ourselves with food. And we can discover that our tender, vulnerable hearts are bigger and more resilient than we ever imagined.
I read this tip many years ago and I thought I would share it, it seems to work for me anyway. Buy a small kitchen timer. Set it for 5 minutes. Then allow yourself to feel whatever you sense that you are avoiding on that particular day. If you are sad, allow yourself to cry. If you are angry, allow yourself to feel the anger in your body. When the timer rings, get up and go on with your day.