Anxiety, boredom, sadness, shame are some of the emotions that can trigger overeating.
Boulder, CO (PRWEB) February 07, 2012
Do these symptoms of emotional eating sound familiar? A stressful day means the end of the new years regime, finishing an overdo project on the computer comes with absentminded nibbling, or feeling bored leads sneaking off to the kitchen cupboard.
“All of these can be instances of emotional eating. Anxiety, boredom, sadness, shame are some of the emotions that can trigger overeating,” says Dr. Joyce Nash, author of the book Lose Weight, Live Healthy: A Complete Guide to Designing Your Own Weight Loss Program (Bull Publishing, April 2011, ISBN: 978-1-933503-61-5, $16.95).
“This is a stressful time of year with short days and long work hours. Whether you made a new years resolution to lose weight or just want to be healthy, it’s crucial that you control what you allow yourself to eat rather than letting what you want to eat control you,” continues Dr. Nash.
Sadness can make a person want to withdraw into themselves. Anger might lead another person to strike out, or if you think that is too dangerous, hold it in and eat to try to feel better. The trouble is, emotional eating can cascade into binge eating—a complete loss of control over eating. And even if it doesn’t, chronic emotional eating adds pounds.
“Having a planned snack as part of a healthy diet is one thing, but trying to escape bad feelings by eating is another. All emotions push you to DO something,” explains Dr. Nash.
As a clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of eating disorders and anxiety disorders, Dr. Nash knows what she’s talking about. And she’s adamant that while food cravings may seem unbearable, it is possible to recognize them as being thoughts—nothing more, nothing less—that your thinking mind is using to trip you up.
Here are Dr. Nash’s ten tips to help overcome emotional eating:
1. When you are not hungry but you feel you have to eat, ask yourself, “what am I really feeling?”
2. Identify your emotions—sadness, boredom, anxiety, anger, shame, hurt, guilt? Remember that emotions and the thoughts that go with them are created by your mind.
3. Think about your values; what is it that makes life worthwhile for you? For
example, your health or family may be important.
4. Take action that will support your values; remind yourself that emotional eating does not support your health.
5. Leave the kitchen or source of the food and walk away; in fact, taking a walk in fresh air would be a good idea.
6. Nurture yourself; understand that whatever bad feelings you are having now will pass in time and don’t struggle to rid yourself of them now.
7. Be appropriately assertive: stand up for your rights using “I” statements and convey your position in a calm manner.
8. Plan ahead: don’t leave things to the last minute and thereby create a crisis for yourself with accompanying anxiety.
9. Adopt mindfulness—an attitude of openness, receptivity, curiosity, and
acceptance and leave behind judgment or ideas from the past or future.
Take a deep breath when stressed and for a moment or two, just focus on your breathing.
10. Accept what you cannot change and do your best to influence what you can. Remember that thoughts and feelings come automatically and cannot be
changed—just accepted as products of your mind.
“When you find yourself struggling to get rid of uncomfortable thoughts or feelings, take in a deep breath and let it out slowly, relaxing into your chest,” Dr. Nash adds as a final suggestion. “Deep breathing on a regular basis helps to relieve the stress that emotions can cause. Tell yourself this too will pass and then return to just doing life without resorting to emotional eating to try and push away life’s difficulties.”
About the Author:
Joyce D. Nash, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Menlo Park, CA, specializing in the treatment of eating disorders and anxiety disorders. Dr. Nash has authored nine books on behavioral medicine subjects and weight-related topics. For more information about Dr. Nash, visit her website.
About the book:
Lose Weight, Live Healthy: A Complete Guide to Designing Your Own Weight Loss Program (Bull Publishing, April 2011, ISBN: 978-1-933503-61-5, $16.95,) is available from bookstores nationwide and all major online booksellers.