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Conquer Emotional Eating Over The Holidays

Posted Nov 16 2010 10:00am

According to Jane Jakubczak RD (University of Maryland Nutritionist) 75% of overeating is caused by emotions. And with the holiday season’s just around the corner emotional over eating runs rampant.  Food, parties and stress are plentiful which is usually why presents aren't the only thing gained during the holiday season. 

However, just because we’re subjected to more food and stress, it doesn’t mean those extra 7-10 lbs that the media says we gain during the holidays is inevitable.  

Don't give in and follow along with the other sheeple .  The first step to changing an unwanted behavior is to recognize it. Then once you admit to those undesirable habits, you can begin to work on them one little step at a time.

Emotional eating does more than fill our stomachs, it also satisfies our feelings.  There are many reasons why we eat other than sustenance . This time of the year especially can subject us to periods of stress, fear, anger, boredom, sadness and loneliness. Eating to feed these feelings with comfort foods when your stomach’s not growling is a big clue that you’re right smack in the middle of an emotional eating binge

Here’s a few more tell tale signs that you may be emotional eating:

· Emotional hunger comes on suddenly where as physical hunger occurs more gradually.

· Emotional cravings feel the need to be satisfied yesterday with the foods you crave and only those foods will do.  In contrast, when you eat to satisfy hunger alone you’re open to more food options.

· Emotional eating is usually attached extreme feelings of guilt, where eating because you’re hungry usually isn’t. 

· Even when you’re full, if you’re attempting to fill an emotional need, you’ll keep on eating.  You’ll have those feelings of a bottomless pit.  Nothing is satisfying.

If you're experiencing any of these signals, the next step is to replace those behaviors with positive ones. 

Try these tips:

· Do a hunger reality check. Are you truly hungry or do you just crave something?  If you just ate a short while ago and your stomach’s not growling you’re probably only trying to fix your feelings with food.

· Manage your stress.  I know this is easier said than done. But it’s a must.  There’s no way to eliminate the stress in our lives.  Especially nowadays.  So the best approach you can take is to start practicing things that will help put a damper on stress like: meditation, yoga, tai chi , relaxation etc.

· Remove temptation.  Out of sight out of mind.  If the chips, cookies, cakes and ice cream don’t live in your house, you won’t have to resist them.  And if you’re feeling a little blue or pissy, put off your trip to the grocery store until you’re in a better mood.

· Don’t deprive yourself.  Forget about the scale and focus on your health.  Whenever you put your body in a state of restriction and DIET, your body will do everything in its power to keep the weight on and prevent starvation and famine.  I’m not saying break out the cake and ice cream.  Just focus on good, whole, nutrient rich foods and you won’t crave the crap.  Promise.

· Get some help.  Support is huge.  Especially when it comes to changing unproductive habits.  Even though the changes may sound simple, it’s NOT going to be easy.  Lean on friends, family, support groups or enlist the help of a coach.

· Get plenty of sleep.  Something I’m still working on.  When you’re tired, your craving for shit foods goes up considerably.  It’s another survival mechanism driven by hormones .  Make sleep a priority and pizza, chips and ice cream won’t even enter your mind.

Whatever emotions cause you to overeat will often produce the same end result of weight gain.  Then the guilt sets in, you beat yourself up more and make the problem worse… Stop the insanity.  Recognize the feelings at the root cause of your pizza binges and then replace those behaviors with positive ones and more nutritious foods and the rest will fall into place.  Have any other tips for dealing with emotional eating?  If so, please share them in the comment section.

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