Introduction to emotional eating
Turning to food when feeling emotional is something many of us are familiar with. Some will actually find it harder to eat when emotional but many more of us soon find we are looking for the TV remote amidst a mountain of chocolate bar and biscuit wrappers as we slump before another box set, stuffed to the gills with sweet goodies and now feeling guilty on top of the original emotion.
The website, B-eat describes the issue thus, ‘Emotional overeating can be defined as eating large amounts of food in response to negative emotions (such as anxiety or depression) rather than physical hunger. The evidence is also out there that pain can cause emotional overeating. When chronic pain conditions are complicated by anxiety and catastrophising the issue can get much worse.
The movies highlight the issue 44% of the 50 top grossing ‘chick flicks’ show scenes of emotional eating. Bridget Jones anyone?
It might not surprise you to know that people who are overweight eat more when experiencing emotions that we might typically describe as negative but people who are less than their ideal weight eat less, which of course might be just as problematic, so ‘emotional eating’ might also be ‘emotional under-eating’ in some. Interestingly, overweight people also tend to eat more when experiencing those emotions, we might see as positive so happiness or sadness, the problem arises. The difference is in people who are underweight who reverse the trend and begin to eat more when happy.
Programmed for emotional eating
Emotions are everywhere. They follow us around and spring into action when we least expect them, causing us fear, anxiety, happiness, love and all sorts of strange things that make us human. For the most part, we enjoy emotions. But we aren’t always living in the ‘most part’. And it’s the ‘other’ emotions that usually cause the problems. Managing emotions isn’t easy; we are programmed to respond with a cave man (woman) mentality which might have suited us 100 000 years ago but is far from helpful in today’s day and age. And we don’t want to start putting them into a box and securing the lid with a hefty padlock – emotions are there to be enjoyed, to add spice to life and enhance the meaning of humanity.
Overcoming emotional eating
Next week we will be publishing a handy guide to managing emotional eating. We won’t say how many tips will be in the article as we keep identifying more and more helpful hints every day. And if you have any tried and tested techniques that have helped you to manage the problem of emotional eating, please feel free to put them forward in the discussion section below – your input is always gratefully received.