Emotional eating: when comfort foods become dangerous

Emotional eating means turning to food for comfort. That box of Oreos or bag of chips may provide relief in the short-term when you’re feeling lonely, anxious, depressed, or bored, but emotional eating can also lead to overeating and unwanted weight gain.

It is estimated that 75% of overeating is a response to emotions.

But there is good news! You can learn skills and alternative ways to cope with feelings of emotional distress to keep from reaching for those unhealthy foods whenever you’re faced with a negative feeling.

Identify your eating triggers. Do you eat to fit in, even when you’re not hungry? Do you eat in response to unpleasant feelings (loneliness, anxiety)? Do you eat because of a negative self-image? Do you eat just because the opportunity is there? Or because you’re watching TV, and you always have a snack when you watch TV? Learning why and when you turn to food for comfort teaches you your triggers.

Break the emotional eating habit by going for a walk, taking a relaxing bath, doing deep breathing exercises, meditating, washing the car, or talking to a friend.

Forward Counseling is currently offering a Food/Body/Soul group. In it we teach relaxation techniques, promote movement, and help our clients become mindful of their bodies and appetites. Mindful eating techniques are proven to combat emotional eating. To register, complete an appointment form online at http://forwardcounseling.com/contact/.

Learn more about Food/Body/Soul at http://forwardcounseling.com/summer-2014-group-therapy/.

Written by Catherine Clubb-Brown, intern

Photo courtesy of happyfoodhealthylife.com 

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