You've done everything right this time. You're eating lots of salad, fruit, and protein; using only low fat dressings and even staying away from white flour and refined sugar.
But then…you have an argument with your spouse. You are bored, stressed, depressed and giving up. You walk by the pantry and see nothing that will satisfy the sudden urge for sugar, salt, potato chips, candy, or whatever your particular poison of choice. So you go down to the grocery store and find what you need, go home and pig out! Maybe you don't need to go to the store…maybe you've thought ahead because you knew this moment would come and you have a secret cabinet with all kinds of binge eating goodies!.
Ok, well that might be a little dramatic. But most people have found themselves following a good, healthy diet and all of a sudden, because of some emotional upheaval, they've found themselves in the middle of an overeating binge. It can really blow your whole healthy eating plan. So what's happening when you find yourself in this situation?And how can you stop emotional eating?
First of all, when you go on an emotional eating binge, strong emotions are causing you to experience stress. This is when your body goes into "fight or flight" response. You either "fight"or you "fly". All your energy is directed towards one of these responses. Cortisol is released and normally, this causes the energy exerted in fighting or flying ito be replaced with an increase in appetite. You are supposed to eat to replace the energy burned.
However, in modern-day times, we are unable to follow through with the "fight or flight" response. Everything happens as it is designed to happen, except that instead of energy being burned, it is "stuffed" and we are left with an urge to eat.
So what can you do to stop emotional eating? I have found a very helpful book, "Lose It For Life" written by Stephen Arterburn and Dr. Linda Mintle, who suggest making a list of alternate activities when you find yourself in such a situation, such as taking a walk, take three deep breaths or call a friend. One other very effective way to battle these urges is to pray. As a Christian, I find the strength I need to deal with my weakness is found in God.
Sometimes we turn to food out of loneliness or boredom. The same technique could apply. Talking to your friend or playing with your dog could be infinitely more interesting than stuffing your face with a cookie.
Copyright 2005 by Eunice Coughlin
About the Author
Eunice Coughlin is the founder of Healthy Living for Moms, which encourages healthy living habits for moms of all ages and stages. For more information about emotional eating andother healthy living topics, check out www.healthy-living-for-moms.com/emotional_eating.html.