Do you tend to munch on a lot of chocolates or sweets when you get anxious? Many women can relate to this kind of situation, especially women in the menopause age. This is often referred to as emotional eating. You tend to eat large amount of food as a response to your emotions, even if you are not hungry. Most of the time, with emotional eating, you consume more junk foods or “comfort food”, which don’t really bring you the nutrients that your body needs.
I don’t Know if I’m Emotional Eating! Am I?
Maybe you are asking yourself if you are emotional eating. How do you know if you are actually eating as a result of the way you feel? What happens if you are? Here are some of the most common points that can tell if a person is binge eating as a response to their feelings.
- You tend to use “FOOD” as means of comfort, especially when you feel overwhelmed
- You don’t wait to get hungry before you start eating. You eat not because you’re hungry, but you eat because you think like you have to
- Sometimes, you are already munching on some food, but you haven’t realized that you have actually been eating
- You don’t want other people to know your manner of eating. You tend to shy off and feel guilty about the way you eat
- You want to stop eating, but when you think about stopping, you tend to eat more
- Some specific food increases binge eating; when you see ice cream, donuts, or fragrant pastries, you would start longing for food
If emotional eating is not minimized or stopped it could lead to more problems. It may cause too much fat accumulation in the body and cause you to gain weight. It could affect your self-esteem too! Once you feel negative about yourself, you tend to eat more and more! It goes on and on in a cycle.
Why Does this Happen?
Clinical Psychologist, Megan Roehrig, said that stress is the number one reason why women tend to go binge eating. In fact, during menopause phase, where more life stressors could be present, emotional eating is most likely possible. Overwhelming changes like loss, feeling of emptiness, and transitions could become the trigger points.
As women grow older in menopause, they experience having kids, who need to leave home for a job or the kids could get married and have their own families. Women may have to go through divorce, which is undoubtedly such a stressful factor. Or at some point, they may have to deal with very old parents, who they need to look after as well. These points tend to cause negative emotions and further cause a person to practice binge eating.
What’s worse is, societal norms tend to put more pressure to women and this could contribute to the binge eating problem. The society today gives high appreciation to the young and skinny. This notion makes a lot of women feel less wanted and they feel bad about their selves too! A little tip, love your body and feel good about yourself!
How Do I Stop Emotional Eating?
Nobody wants to get stuck with emotional eating. But, there’s good news! There are a lot of methods you can do to stop the problem. Plus, these things are very easy to do! Firstly, identify the events that make you want to eat. Learn more about your body, especially on what triggers you to grab some food. You have to see if there has been a pattern of your emotional eating. List the kind of food that you ate in a day and also how you felt during specific times of the day.
To give you a better picture about looking into the food that you eat, learn how Brooke Castillo can help you with Food Journals. Check her video out. (5.26 minutes)
You can also visit Brooke Castillo's website, The Life Coach School, and learn more from her highly informative podcasts and videos! She imparts her knowledge and skills on how to manage your life professionally. And, if you want, you can even get courses from her on how to be a life coach yourself, and help others!
Tips to Control Emotional Eating
Tracking your emotions and the food that you eat daily is sometimes not enough. You have to try to bring yourself some distractions to get rid of binge eating. Also, you need to divert your focus on some activities and not on food. If you catch yourself longing for some food, try to divert your attention. Instead of getting a bowl of ice cream or a bar of chocolate, do some of the following activities:
- Simply take deep breaths and shake off the thought of food or eating
- Listen to music, especially upbeat ones to hype up your mood
- Read a good book, one that interests you the most
- Go out to the park for a walk or do a simple jog
- Get a refreshing bath or shower; bubble bath as you please
- Turn to your chores, like doing the dishes, tilling the garden, or washing the car
Basically, you would want to do something that you love, except eating! One thing that’s very important to do is to clear your mind from negative thoughts. When your mind is so occupied with many things, it could trigger your emotional eating. So, you would want to get rid of those negativities. Shake the negative thoughts off!
It’s Getting Worse! Where Do I Get Help?
Optimize your Coping Mechanism
Getting a good support system is a very important way to fight off emotional eating. You are binge eating because of several reasons. You could be feeling bad about something. You may be tired, feeling bored and lonely. At some point, you may be drinking alcohol and that triggers you to eat more. And in many cases, a good number of women have sweet tooth (we understand you), so you are tempted to eat quite a lot.
However, most of the time, you don't want anybody else to know how you are feeling, which is sometimes a bad idea. It is good to share your problems with the people you love. Having somebody who can understand you will lift off those heavy loads. Enjoy with your spouse, connect with your friends, and communicate with your family! It's very simple, but effective too! You can even get a pet as well! Pets like dogs or cats can be your stress reliever.
Avoid adding more insult to the injury. Don't be too hard on yourself! Make time to pamper your body and feel good. If you think you are overworked, take some time to go out. You can go out with your spouse and enjoy a long day together! Bring back the younger years when you both love going out to the movies or to the beach. Or, you may want to enjoy a day at the spa. Or simply, get a long uninterrupted sleep and rest! That's already enough to regain your strength and refresh your mind.
Find Alternative Solutions
Find ways to perk up your mood and fight off stress. There are superfoods that can help manage your mood like Ashwagandha, Chasteberry, Damiana and Black Cohosh. If you prefer doing physical activities than taking supplements, yoga techniques and some exercises can actually help you manage stress and further prevent emotional eating.
Gear Yourself with More Knowledge!
You can read books from experts in fighting off emotional eating! End your battle with binge eating with the help of the following books:
Get Professional Help
In most severe cases of emotional eating, experts suggest undergoing CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This method pays attention to how a person thinks that may lead to emotional eating. It's basically looking into the root cause of the situation. A lot of people tend to avoid or hide their emotions behind eating. What the CBT does is the professionals help the person identify and acknowledge the existing emotions. And then, they both find ways to address the problem appropriately, and no longer through food or eating.
Have you suffered from emotional eating? What did you do to feel better? Share your story with us today!
Have a Happy Menopause Journey!