Support with Emotional Eating by Oliver McCabe – Independent Irish Healthfoods Author of The FuelFood Cookbook
Emotional eating is the tendency of its sufferers to respond to stress by eating, even when not hungry, often high-calorie or high-carbohydrate foods that have minimal nutritional value. The foods that emotional eaters crave are often referred to as comfort foods, like ice cream, cookies, chocolate, chips, French fries, and pizza. About 40% of people tend to eat more when stressed, while about 40% eat less and 20% experience no change in the amount of food they eat when exposed to stress.
What is the treatment for emotional eating?
Overcoming emotional eating tends to involve teaching the sufferer healthier ways to view food and develop better eating habits, recognize their triggers for engaging in this behavior, and develop appropriate ways to prevent and alleviate stress.
An important step in managing stress is exercise, since regular physical activity tends to dampen the production of stress chemicals, even leading to a decrease in depression, anxiety, and insomnia in addition to decreasing the tendency to engage in emotional eating.
Engaging in meditation and other relaxation techniques is also a powerful way to manage stress and therefore decrease emotional eating. Therefore, engaging in one or two meditation sessions a day can have lasting beneficial effects on health, even decreasing high blood pressure and heart rate.
Refraining from drug use and consuming no more than moderate amounts of alcohol are other important ways to successfully manage stress since many of these substances heighten the body's response to stress. Also, indulging in use of those substances often prevents the person from facing their problems directly so they are not able to develop effective ways to cope with or eliminate the stress.
Other lifestyle changes that can decrease stress include taking breaks at home and at work. Refrain from over-scheduling yourself. Learn to recognize and respond to your stress triggers. Take regular days off at intervals that are right for you. Structure your life to achieve a comfortable way to respond to the unexpected.
For those who may need help dealing with stress, stress-management counseling in the form of individual or group therapy can be very useful. Stress counseling and group therapy have proven to reduce stress symptoms and improve overall health