Often when someone is feeling emotionally down they try to pacify negative feelings such as sadness, anger, boredom, or loneliness by reaching out for comfort. And usually this comfort can be easily achieved through food.
Comfort foods mean different things to different people, but they are generally high in carbohydrates and calories, and low in nutrition such as burgers, fries, pizza, candy, cake, and ice cream. They give “comfort” by invoking a pleasurable state of mind and sense of well being, if only for a short time. Indulging in comfort foods once in a while is not a problem; however, if a person is binge eating them on a regular basis then there are more troublesome aspects than just a few extra pounds.
Debi Silber, author of The Lifestyle Fitness Program: A Six Part Plan So Every Mom Can Look, Feel and Live Her Best, says there are many negative effects from comfort food and binge eating. “We gravitate towards comfort foods when we’re in some type of emotional pain,” Silber says. “Not only are they loaded with fat and calories, but we eat them because they tend to generate the feelings of warmth, security and comfort they were originally served up with. These types of foods along with eating them when we’re feeling these negative emotions, encourages a flood of stress hormones to be released which contribute to weight gain, physical, mental and emotional wear and tear.”
There are many underlying causes that cause emotional eating, but the key is identifying the obstruction that is preventing you from regaining control of your eating habits. This is not an easy task and sometimes requires the assistance a medical health professional. But once the reason has been identified you will be in a better position to recognize what triggers cause you to develop killer cravings and lose control.
Silber, who is also a registered dietician and is widely known as The Mojo Coach® , says an emotional eating binge is a cry to meet an unmet need such as loneliness, frustration, anger, compassion, even sleep. “Through binge eating, we fail to uncover what’s needed so the problem remains,” she says. “We can end our battles with emotional eating when we solve the real problem; then there’s no need to binge.”
The good news is that doctors and scientists are now starting to recognize emotional binge eating is a genuine food addiction that is a real problem in the lives of many people. For most types of addiction, the road to recovery is abstinence. Of course, you have to eat to live so that is not a viable option for food addicts. The solution is to make lifestyle changes by adjusting your eating patterns.
Start by trying to recognize what triggers cause you to reach for your favorite comfort foods. Keep a food journal and jot down everything you eat. Include the time of day you ate and how you were feeling at the time. Include whether or not you were genuinely hungry or were trying to fill a void. Eventually you will see a pattern develop that will help you identify certain triggers.
If you discover you were trying to fill a void or suppress a negative emotion, ask yourself what other type of activity you can partake in that doesn’t involve eating. A brisk walk, calling a friend, or listening to your favorite music are good distractions.
Think about what lower calorie foods you could eat the next time you crave comfort food. For example, a frozen yogurt or sorbet is a better alternative to ice cream. Sugar-free chocolate pudding can be a tasty replacement to a piece of cake. And frozen grapes are great substitutes for candy.
If you feel the urge to snack between meals because you are genuinely hungry, don’t deny yourself. Otherwise, this can also lead to binge eating because you allowed yourself to get too hungry. Instead, nosh on healthy snacks such as fruits and vegetables, unbuttered popcorn, cheese, or nuts and seeds.
Finally, be sure to exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep. If you are good to your body, it will be good to you by helping to you fight off stress and fatigue. Focus on the positive changes you are making in your life and take it one day at a time.
Good Luck With Your Future !!!