Break the Cycle of Emotional Eating
If you are an emotional eater, then you’re not alone, says Terri Simonton, a dietitian at Clark Memorial Health. Staying home quarantining adds to the temptation to snack. Many times we grab comfort foods, which may be high in fat and added sugars, to help us feel better when dealing with stress or boredom. What’s really happening in our brains and bodies when we want to eat our feelings?
When you feel anxious or stressed, your central nervous system produces the hormones adrenaline and cortisol in response. Your body then reacts and is ready for action – the fight-or-flight reaction. Your heart rate and breathing may increase and your blood pressure can rise.
Cortisol particularly has an effect on your appetite. It drives you to seek ways to bring your stress level down, increases your desire for high-energy (read: high-fat and high-sugar) foods, and suppresses your brain’s signals of fullness, all of which contribute to unhealthy eating.
We can break the cycle of emotional eating by learning healthy ways to cope with life stressors. Here are 10 suggestions from Terri you can try today.
Stress management strategies:
- Eat a healthy diet
- Get regular exercise and plenty of sleep
- Practice relaxation techniques
- Read, listen to music, take time for hobbies
- Seek professional counseling if needed
Ideas to overcome eating due to boredom:
- Work on home improvements
- Get outside and enjoy nature
- Ride a bike
- Walk the dog
- Read a book
Imagine how great you would feel to master emotional eating. Everyone is different, so try a variety of strategies to see what works best for you.
Terri Simonton is a dietitian at Clark Memorial Health.