Archive | Emotional Eating

5 Feelings that Fuel Fatness

January 2016

Feeling #1: Tired — It dulls your “I’m full” hormone.

When you are lacking sleep, the body naturally craves food that provides instant energy.  Research shows that after 2 nights of insufficient sleep — craving for carbs increase by 45%.  

There are two hunger hormones that regulate ‘hunger versus fullness’.  Ghrelin signals “eat” and Leptin signals “stop”.

When you haven’t had enough sleep (typically 7-8 hours for the average person) — the Ghrelin levels increase and Leptin levels decrease.  That means when you lack sleep — you eat — you don’t feel full — and you continue to eat even though you aren’t hungry.

Solution:  Pay attention to your sleep schedule.  Consider a natural remedy if you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep — such as an essential oil of Lavender on your feet.  The natural qualities of Lavender promote a restful sleep. Check with your doctor first – even natural remedies aren’t right for everyone.

Feeling #2: Happily Married/Partnered — It invigorates “I deserve this” thinking.

The researcher and author, Brian Wansink, Ph.D., (Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think), surveyed 1,000 people and found that participants were most likely to turn to comfort foods when they were happy (86 percent) or when they wanted to reward themselves for something done well (74 percent).  Research supports the notion that getting married encourages a “let yourself go” mentality and enjoyment of food together.

Solution: Identify the shared habits that are harming your health and come up with ways to engage with your spouse in a more healthy way.  Consider other activities to connect that don’t involve food or take a ‘healthy cooking” class together.

Feeling #3: Lonely – It feeds the “I’m hungry” hormone.

The link between loneliness, depression and weight gain is substantial. I mentioned Ghrelin earlier — studies indicate that feelings of loneliness increases the “let’s eat” hormone.  People who are perpetually lonely eat more than those who have good, healthy social networks.

Solution: Increase your interactions with people who are meaningful to you.  Don’t have enough friends?  Make a list of 1-3 organizations/events/groups you’d like to try out in the next month — and then go.  

Feeling #4:  Deprived – It masks itself as hunger.

Our brains become wired to view “no-no”  foods as rewards, increasing cravings that are difficult to fight.  Diets are founded around an all-or-nothing experience — “I can either have this or I can’t.”  Therefore, dieting creates a feeling of, “I’m deprived” — which fuels the desire for the forbidden, locking you into a cycle of craving.

Solution:  If you’re feeling deprived in your eating, learn to eat with mindfulness.  That means that you can eat whatever you want — small portions – enjoy each bite – stop when you feel full.  Doing this will eliminate labeling certain foods as “off limits,” which will help you crave them less.

Feeling #5: Anxiety – It drives mindless eating.

A recent study in the journal, Eating and Weight Disorders, placed anxiety as “one of the most important factors associated with weight gain.”  My previous mentor from Chicago who specialized in eating issues stated that two-thirds of people who struggle with eating (either eating too much or too little), suffer from anxiety.   Her experience was that anxiety came first and was then followed by unhealthy eating.

Solution: Get some help with your anxiety, albeit self-help books, a support group, meditation/prayer, spiritual advisor or a therapist.

“The real journey is the journey within”.

~~ Thomas Merton

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Emotional Eating: 5 Reasons Why You Can’t Stop

July 2015

Why are you eating?  Paying attention to the answer is key.

It’s astonishing to hear that the weight-loss industry in the United States hauls in $40 billion annually with diet pills, diet books, meal plans and surgical procedures.   The number of people who are dieting at any given time is 100 million, with an average of 4-5 diets each year.

Yet, obesity continues to accelerate and the United States is facing a health epidemic related to excessive consumption.  Why?

1. Unawareness
Emotional eating is when you’re full and you continue to eat. Snacks and dessert are often eaten when you are not hungry and you don’t even notice. The solution? Be mindful of what and when you are eating. Ask 2 questions when you are going for food, “Am I hungry?  What emotion am I feeding?”  Listen to the response and act accordingly.

2. Food as Your Only Pleasure
You might notice that desserts and snacks help you temporarily feel better and soothe yourself. Why? Sugars and fats release opioids in your brain which are the active ingredients in cocaine, heroin and many other narcotics. The calming, soothing effects you feel are real.  The solution? Find other ways to soothe with a healthy dose of something else; a good book, a walk in the park, a warm bath, meditation/prayer.

3. Inability to Tolerate Difficult Feelings
Not being able to tolerate “negative” feelings makes you susceptible to emotional eating.  The solution? Pay attention to your feelings and then do something to shift that feeling.  Bored – call a friend to chat.  Lonely – go for a walk in the park and say “hi” to people that pass by.  Angry – write a note of apology to someone you’ve hurt.  Feeling unheard — write out your feelings in a journal.  Spiritually dry — pray.

4. Body Hate
It may sound illogical, but it’s true: hating your body is one of the biggest factors in emotional eating. Negativity, shame and self-hatred rarely inspire people to make healthy changes.  Many people tell me they will stop hating their body after they reach a better weight.  That’s backwards — stop hating your body so you can stop your emotional eating.  You might even notice that after you eat a certain food or you eat too much — your Inner Critic begins to berate you, calling you names such as “disgusting, pig, fat, out of control, etc.”  Then, your self-esteem plummets and you reach for food to comfort yourself.

5. Physiology
Letting yourself get too hungry, worn-down or tired sets you up for emotional eating. Solution? Get plenty of sleep and eat only when your body tells you it is hungry.  You might eat when you are actually thirsty — grab a glass of water instead of instantly heading to the vending machine. Ask yourself, “Am I hungry?  What am I feeling right now?”  Use an essential oil such as Lavender on the bottom of your feet at bedtime to help get a natural and restful sleep.

The Solution:  Mindfulness
Mindfulness is deliberately paying attention, being fully aware of what is happening inside of yourself – body, heart, mind, spirit.  Mindfulness is awareness without criticism or judgment — being able to get that Inner Critic to relax back so you can enjoy the moment.

If you are hungry – eat, pause, enjoy, savor, slow down.  By pausing – you are able to sense when you are full.  Then, stop.  If you want to save room for dessert – stop eating your main meal when you are still hungry.  Let it settle about 5-10 minutes.  Then have a sensible portion of dessert.

In mindful eating you are not comparing yourself to anyone else. You are simply witnessing the many sensations and thoughts that come up as you eat.

Living and eating with mindfulness means that you experience:

  1. The pleasure of eating well that is based on internal cues of hunger and satiety rather than on external food plans or diets
  2. Self-acceptance and respect for the diversity of healthy, beautiful bodies rather than the pursuit of an idealized weight at all costs
  3. The joy of movement, encouraging all physical activities rather than prescribing a specific exercise routine.

QUOTE: “Well, I think probably the main reason
people overeat is stress.”
~Jenny Craig

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Emotional Eating: Feeding Your Emotions

October 2014

Food does more than fill your stomach.  It temporarily satisfies feelings and masks them.  As you quench those feelings with comfort food when your stomach isn’t growling, that is called, “emotional eating.”  Emotional eating is not done as a reaction to feeling hunger – it’s done as a reaction to feeling an emotion.

A key to recognizing the difference between physical hunger and emotional eating is mindfulness.  Mindfulness merely means, “paying attention to the present moment.”

Here are 5 tips to recognize the difference:

  1. Physical hunger occurs gradually while emotional hunger comes on suddenly.
  2. With emotional eating, you crave a specific food (e.g. pizza, ice cream, potato chips) and only that food will meet your need. When you eat because you are actually hungry, you’re open to more food options.
  3. Emotional hunger feels like it needs to be satisfied instantly with the food you crave.  Physical hunger can wait.
  4. Pause before you reach for a second helping.  If you are full and you keep eating – it’s related to emotions.
  5. Emotional eating leaves behind feelings of guilt or regret.  Eating when you are physically hungry does not.

Much can be gained by recognizing the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger.  Mindfulness is being aware of your body sensations and emotions to realize the type of hunger you are actually feeling.

Pause and ask yourself these questions — you’ll begin to be more mindful of what and how you are eating:

  • Am I hungry or am I craving a particular food?
  • Am I actually thirsty – not hungry?
  • Am I upset – feeling bored – wanting to celebrate – feeling guilty?  What am I feeling right now?
  • If I am feeling emotionally hungry – what am I really craving?  Do I need to connect with someone?  Do I need to do something to break my boredom that is unrelated to food?
  • [If I’m eating] Am I full yet?  Do I need a 2nd helping?  Do I need to finish everything that is on my plate?  Am I still eating because I’m still hungry – or because it is satisfying my mouth?

When you engage in mindful eating — your body will make it clear as to when you are hungry and when you are full.  By listening to your body and your emotions, your body will regulate itself to a natural, normal weight for you.

This is not about losing weight.  This is about eating and feeling your way to a physically healthy and emotionally balanced lifestyle.

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