Brookhaven Retreat Observes Emotional Overeating Awareness Month

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Brookhaven Retreat, a unique residential treatment facility exclusively for women with mental health and/or substance abuse issues, helps emotional eaters find healthy coping strategies in April.

April is Emotional Overeating Awareness Month, the purpose of which is to challenge emotional eaters to wholly experience feelings without attempting to numb emotions with comfort foods. In April, Brookhaven Retreat recognizes the importance of rebuilding women’s relationship with food as one component of mental health recovery.

Emotional eaters use food to self-soothe and regulate emotions. In order to dull the intensity of stress, depression, anxiety or loneliness, emotional eaters turn to comfort foods that are high in sugar, fats and refined carbohydrates. These nutritional choices harm more than physical health, as they temporarily mask emotional and mental health issues that remain unaddressed.

Women with mental health issues often use food as a coping strategy and suffer from an unhealthy relationship with body image and nutrition. Sometimes, eating becomes the primary coping mechanism for women with mental illnesses and they regularly turn to food to quell feelings of depression and anxiety. This is only a temporary fix, and the resulting guilt worsens a woman’s emotional state. While coping strategies temporarily relieve intense emotions, mental health issues that have not been addressed soon return.

In order to break the cycle of emotional eating, it is necessary for women to ask themselves what emotions they are trying to fill and why. By examining their real needs, women can understand what they emotionally hunger for and address this need during treatment. Women then better recognize the triggers for coping behaviors and can develop alternative behavioral responses.

Brookhaven Retreat’s residential treatment center helps women overcome mental health and substance abuse issues. The women in its treatment center often suffer from a disjointed relationship with food as a result of deeper emotional issues. Brookhaven Retreat believes that women must address their emotional, spiritual, physical and nutritional needs in order to fix the underlying root of emotional eating.

One part of Brookhaven Retreat’s therapy program helps women heal their relationship with food through the aid of a registered dietitian alongside healthy eating and body image classes. These classes provide the emotional coping tools necessary to avoid emotional eating. Women learn to manage mental health issues from a place of empowerment and understanding, and leave treatment able to regulate emotions without turning to food as a solution.

About Brookhaven Retreat
Brookhaven Retreat is a women's treatment center nestled on a naturally beautiful 48-acre site secluded in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. It has helped hundreds of women across the United States overcome depression, trauma, anxiety, substance use and a range of other behavioral health challenges. Brookhaven’s Founder, Jacqueline Dawes, has predicated its gender-specific treatment on “healing emotional breakage” for women. In this way, she has established a sanctuary and a place where women can feel safe, secure and cared for by a staff of highly trained professionals.

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Jessica Wirth
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