February 23, 2012 by
Many of us associate food with comfort, and have for thebetter part of our lives. Often people end up associating food, and the act ofeating in general, with an overall sense of well-being.
Leftunchecked, these patterns can grow more intense as we age, directing people tolook to food first when in need of emotional relief: to eat something, anything, in response toany number of feelings: boredom, anger, loneliness, happiness, depression,self-pity, excitement, fear, etc…
EmotionalEating is a common coping skill for many adolescents and adults. It’s a way asuppressing negative feelings, or of distracting ourselves from uncomfortablesituations or thoughts. Often, whenconfronted with strong negative emotions or uncomfortable situations, somepeople will reach for anything, eating as much as possible as quickly aspossible, with little or no satisfaction. These emotional eating binges arefrequently followed by feelings of guilt, shame, anger, embarrassment, self-pityand apathy, and just feed right back into the cycle.
This isa main reason why a lot of diets don’t work for all people. If you have strongpsychological ties between food and your personal happiness or well being,placing strong restrictions on your diet seems to just be setting yourself upfor failure. If you’re not getting all the sugar, fat, salt, what-have-you thatyour body is used to, it can make you edgy or anxious. Prompted by theseuncomfortable feelings, dieters will often look for ANY excuse to break a dietand start binge eating.
What itcomes down to is this: in order to change, (i.e. lose weight, establish ahealthier nutritional life) you need to focus on changing more than just whatyou eat. You need to change your thinking, modify your behavior, and findhealthier ways to reward or comfort yourself.
What doyou think? Is food, or the act of eating, emotionally comforting? Has it becomean unhealthy way of rewarding or consoling yourself? Are there other regularactivities you use as coping skills that may be affecting your health andwell-being? Let us know!
Note: Renuil will be hosting a free community lecture on Emotional Eating on March 6, 2012! firstname.lastname@example.org
or call (312) 860-8278 to RSVP!