Is your best friend Haagen Daz or Sara Lee? Do you snuggle up at night with potato chips and M&Ms? Have you eagerly awaited the end of an evening event so you could go home and eat? Do you welcome solitude so that you can have an uninterrupted food spree?
If you see yourself in any of these situations, you are an emotional overeater — a person who eats in response to his or her feelings — a person whose overeating has nothing do with hunger.
You will know it’s emotional overeating because the food is consumed in large quantities, is usually fast foods or snack foods, tends to be eaten very quickly (often barely tasted), and is usually consumed in secrecy Hunger will have nothing to do with it. And you will feel terrible about yourself afterwards…
When the most comforting though in your head is the candy bar stashed in your desk drawer, you know that you have a problem. Food, like tobacco or alcohol, can be addictive and the drug of choice. In particular, quick and easy high fat, high sugar foods are addictive because they numb out feelings. When life gets too stressful, boring or tense, food can be the emotional anesthetic that makes it better. for many people, food is an emotionally addictive anesthetic.
Emotional overeating protects people from tension and worries. As strange as it may seem, emotional overeating can be calming; it “works”, at least in the short run. And that is why it is a difficult cycle to break. The emotional facts are that it is often easier and less upsetting to be angry at yourself then it is to be tense upset or angry at an important person in your life. Perhaps you are afraid of the feelings of disruption, aloneness or abandonment that can come with being angry at a significant other…
Often, an upset feeling can be transferred into emotional overeating. Through the distraction of food, repetitive chewing and swallowing, and obsessive food thoughts, intense feelings are redirected into overeating behavior. These behaviors tend to be psychologically safer than confrontations with a loved one which might cause conflict, arguments, disharmony or withdrawal.
The first step in breaking the emotional overeating cycle is to find out what feelings you are avoiding. Often, this is not easy to do. You have to be a bit of a detective and look for clue~ anytime you find yourself overeating or wanting to overeat.
If food has been your anesthetic, then to cure emotional overeating you will need to bear some discomfort–the discomfort of saying what you are really feeling, the discomfort of an argument, or the discomfort of someone “disconnecting” with you. The alternative — superficial harmony — is only attained through your silence and the act of swallowing your true feelings along with a large dose of food.
We all want warm loving accepting relationships. But real life is more complicated. Relationships between grown adults have differences, angers and tensions. Relationships are prickly not smooth The price tag on a smooth relationship is that one person (sometimes both) obliterate their opinions, values, thoughts or feelings.
So — the cure for emotional overeating is speaking up and spitting out — having the courage to express yourself to the persons meaningful in your life.
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