Welcome to Mellie's mind...

Where thoughts can be funny, can race at all hours of the day and night and can sometimes not make any sense!

Enjoy the ride!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

I put the EMOTION in emotional eating......

How many times in your life have you "emotionally ate?"  For me on and off about a billion times in this last year alone.  Or at other times I will "emotionally" starve myself because I am too upset to eat and somehow subconsciously punish myself.   What causes this emotional state of mind that is then directed to the patterns of my consumption of ... anything?

We have ALL heard that stress is BAD for us.  It heightens our senses; it keeps us up at night and can take the joy out of joyful things.  But it also increases the chemical levels in our bodies.  

When we are stressed the body increases it levels of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone.  Cortisol is made in the adrenal glands.  It helps regulate blood sugar, the process of carbohydrates, proteins and fats into and out of the cells.  High levels of cortisol works against your body's natural desire to stay thin and healthy and it can create cravings for salty and sweet foods. 

When we are under stress some people seek out friends for social support. This can be a great outlet if used properly but most of the time we tend to go out with our friends for dinner or drinks and try and reduce our stress over a meal.  Emotional eating this way can make you feel better at the moment but often will be only short term and thus leaving you with regret later.

Some emotional eating I have seen is due to nervous energy.  Those who find themselves anxious or fidgety will lead to eating when they really are not hungry at all. 

An emotional eating trigger I have is from being a child.  My mother would celebrate us with treats or help up feel better after a bad day with allowing extra sugary treats.  I also witnessed this behavior from her as well when she was depressed.  She would not only go into her room for days at a time she would consume excessive amounts of salt and sugar in treats, chips and or take out. Food can be powerfully comforting or rewarding in times of stress. 

Other examples of emotional eating are when we stuff our faces to stuff our emotions.  People who are uncomfortable with confrontation may deal with their frustrations with a piece of cake, a candy bar or any number of things.  Food can take the focus off our anger, fears or anxiety so we do not have to feel them.  

I once knew a woman who struggled with her weight.  She would hide Jolly Rancher bars all over her house.  When her and her hubby would fight, about anything, she would take solitude in the candy as well as in her mind she was non verbally telling him off by eating the candy.  She did this for many years before she fully understood that she wasn't taking the anger out on him but on herself instead.

We all have many reasons for emotional eating and we all can struggle with it in one way or the other.  But what's important is that we understand and become aware of our triggers and have a game plan in place for when the triggers arise.
Here are a few suggestions if you find that you are an emotional eater:

  • Try going for a brisk walk.  By getting up and moving either by walking or going to the gym you get your endorphins going.  If you are at work and cannot get away try taking your break and walking around the parking lot.  Even a short, brisk walk will help.
  • Meal plan.  Have your meals prepared and planned for one week at a time.  This makes you less likely to grab a snack if you know when and where your next healthy meal is coming from. 
  • Drink water.  Chug as much water as you can down.  This will not only be good for your body but it will make you feel full and less likely to grab that candy bar out of the machine.
  • Journal.  Write your feelings down at that very moment you feel week.  Get it out and don't worry about anything but getting the words out onto paper There is such a release when we journal our feelings.
  • Call a friend and ask them about THEIR day.  Don't focus on your, focus on them.  This will not only buy you time to get through the cravings it will also probably fulfill your emotional need at that time and make your friend feel good too. 
There is no quick or 100% answer for emotional eating.  It all comes down to you and what your triggers are.  But if you can honestly sit back and understand what the body is doing and then understand why YOU are allowing it to happen you can fight it off even more.  

You have the power to stop the vicious circle of emotional eating and you have the power to change your life.

Start living the life you were meant to live.... TODAY!


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