Balancing Your Relationship With Food (part 1)

Why you eat is just as important as what you eat. Many of us learn from an early age that food can bring comfort, at least in the short-term. As a result, instead of learning healthy ways to resolve and deal with feelings, many people learn to turn to food for emotional comfort to help reduce negative feelings. This is what we call emotional eating, the practice of turning to what we call “comfort foods” in response to feelings that are often difficult to cope with. Eating becomes a habit preventing us from learning skills that can effectively resolve our emotional distress. Experts estimate that 75% of overeating is caused by our feelings. Here are some common emotional eating cues:

Stress – It’s not unusual to turn to comfort foods during times of stress and it temporarily takes your mind off food.

Anger – Whether you are angry with yourself or someone else, it’s tempting to stifle or numb intense feelings. Eating large quantities of food acts as anesthetizer.

Avoidance – We may avoid difficult issues by escaping from reality. Food and the eating experiences becomes reality.

Lack of Control – You think that your life is out of control and there is nothing that you are in charge of, except for eating. You can eat whenever and whatever you want.

Feeling Unappreciated – Perhaps you have accomplished something exceptional but no one has noticed. You may find yourself tempted to reward yourself by treating yourself to a comfort food.

Boredom – There’s nothing to do or nowhere to go. Are you feeling lonely? Eating may fill a void for you.

So what can we do about emotional eating eating? The good news is that you can learn skills and alternative ways to cope with feelings of emotional distress so that you’re not reaching for unhealthy foods whenever you’re faced with a negative feeling (coming up on part 2 of Balancing your Relationship With Food).

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