We all have to eat, that’s simply a fact of life. Healthy food provides our bodies with just about every nutrient we need.
But, it’s not unusual, to say the least, that some of us take eating to the extreme, resulting in unwanted weight gain.
One over-eating problem not talked about much, is the issue of emotional eating binges. While the result of emotional eating is recorded on our weight scales, the disorder begins in our minds.
The truth is – Life’s stresses take a toll on the delicate balance of our body’s functions. Our health and emotions are beaten down when our body’s natural defenses are compromised.
Now we all have good times and hard times, bad days and good ones. But it is how we cope with the bad times that trigger emotional eating. Too often we seek false comfort for our pain.
Those of us who turn to foods high on the glycemic index table for comfort realize it is a coping mechanism that won’t let us down. To make matters worse, eating high glycemic carbohydrates may stimulate the production of endorphins similar to when we exercise.
Therefore, even if we’ve strived in the past to stick to our list of low carbohydrate foods, we eat junk – and for a little while we feel “better”.
We use high glycemic bad carbs, cakes, cookies, ice cream, and all kinds of other junk to relieve our stress. We find ourselves kind of hiding behind the snacks and junk food rather than finding solutions to our problems.
This is even more common when the cause of our stress is something terribly traumatic like physical or emotional abuse, or a death in the family, etc.
The problem is – how do we know if we’re eating food because of an emotional disorder?
Well, the first sign is readily apparent.Our emotional eating binges will cause fat and weight gain. So Okay, we’re gaining weight and getting fat – now we need to examine the other areas of our life:
Are we under more stress lately at home or at work?
Have we had a traumatic experience recently, or even in the past several months or even years?
Do we have problems we’re trying to cope with, that we just can’t find solutions to?
Now, if we’ve answered “yes” to a couple or more of these questions, it could very well mean we are overeating to relieve our emotional stress.
In other words, we’re eating more, even when we don’t feel hungry. Just eating to fill the void brought on by our feelings of hopelessness.
While in this binge of emotional eating, the foods we choose are usually what are referred to, (humorously at times), as “comfort foods”, and certainly not on our list of low carbohydrate foods!
High fat foods like French fries, hamburgers, etc
High carbohydrate foods like mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, potato chips, etc.
High Glycemic, bad carbohydrate foods like donuts, cookies, cakes and ice cream
First, (of course), we must realize that we have this emotional eating disorder.
We will likely experience feelings of guilt and helplessness. The guilt will be brought on because we realize we’re ruining our health, and the helplessness is because we can’t imagine a way out of the vicious emotional cycle.
Second: At this point we may need to seek counseling. There is a vast array of counselors in the field that can give us direction in resolving our emotional problems.
Or, in the meantime we may be able to confide in an especially close friend or family member.
We must remember that eating because of emotional stress has nothing to do with our eating habits, (we know better) – most of us have adhered to a rather strict list of low carbohydrate foods. No, it has everything to do with needing to gain control over our emotions!
A professional counselor may suggest visualization therapy, practicing problem solving skills, and family support and relaxation techniques.
Visualization therapy may help us to see the problems that are causing us stress in a more realistic way, instead of letting them get the best of us.
A counselor can also help us to affirm that food is for nutrition, not a tranquilizer for our emotional stress.
Third: Our families can be brought into our treatment. They will be able to spot what triggers our emotional eating and be on the look-out for an unusual obsession for carbohydrate high on the Glycemic Index Table.
They will then have the ability to help us be aware of the bad foods we’re eating and counsel us to make better food choices.
Perhaps a family member would be willing to exercise or take rejuvenating walks with us. A good diet and exercise helps our immune systems, increases blood flow and results in more positive feelings of wellness.
Finding effective new methods of solving our problems and dealing with our emotional stress will likely push “comfort foods” out of our thoughts and lives.
As we bring ourselves off of carbohydrates which are high on the Glycemic Index Table, we may again feel good about our lives, and bask in the sunshine like brightness of emotional freedom.
But of course first and foremost – we have to recognize our emotional eating disorder for what it is.