Obesity Grows in Shaky Economy: America’s Response to Economic Woes - Eat More

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Stress eating fuels obesity epidemic. Many Americans are eating themselves from recession to depression.

According to Yahoo News, “tough times means tighter belts, and for many people tighter pants as they turn to fatty, sugary comfort food to deal with recession-related stress.” It is no secret that many Americans eat when they become more stressed out. But can this behavior become permanent?

Bill Cashell, an emotional eating expert says that research indicates that more than half the population eats more when feeling stressed. This research also indicates that women are more likely than men to experience emotional eating.

“All human behavior is driven by a desire to feel good,” says Cashell, Author of The Emotional Diet – How to Love Your Life More and Food Less. “When people feel negative emotions, they do whatever they can to feel good. Food is the fastest way to get the pleasure of taste and the satisfaction of feeling full. That fullness seems to provide a basic feeling of security, at least on a temporary basis. The problem is that emotional eaters can develop behavior patterns that can continue through life. As they continue the cycle of emotional eating, their self-esteem drops, leading to feelings of depression."

Cashell also cites one of the biggest culprits as “processed food.” When food is highly processed, it loses nutritional value and breaks down faster in the digestive system. This creates a "sugar high" by spiking blood sugar, but leaves the person feeling hungry sooner, causing them to eat more.

Other experts also point to the increased availability of high calorie fast food and “junk foods.” Research shows that the most popular fast food chains tend to be those offering the highest caloric intake. McDonald's, with its value menu, has benefited from the economic slump while sit-down competitors report steep declines.

The key to success may not be as easy as it sounds. The simple solution is to eat less and exercise more. So, why do so many people fail at diets? More information is not the answer. “There is not a heavy person in the world that doesn’t know that donuts are bad for you and broccoli is good,” says Cashell. “When people create associations of pleasure to eating, they will continue that same pattern. The key is to create new associations for feeling good without food.”

Here are three ways The Emotional Diet recommends to feel better right now:

1. Focus on what is good in your life instead of food. There is always something you can think about that
    makes you feel good without calories.
2. Make your happiness unconditional. Most people say “I’ll be happy when I lose 20 pounds”. What your
    mind unconsciously hears is, “I’ll be unhappy until that happens”.
3. Live in the moment. Stress is caused by the fear of something that might happen in the future. When you
    focus on living this moment fully, it takes you away from your worries and helps release that desire to eat.

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Bill Cashell
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