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Dangers of Emotional Eating

Dangers of Emotional Eating

There a number of unhealthy habits that can develop over time if you are not mindful of your eating habits. One very easy unhealthy habit to fall into is emotional eating. This can go unnoticed because it’s not widely thought of as dangerous compared to other life threatening habits such as illegal drug use, and many can easily find excuses for it like saying they can simply “exercise more later.” How serious is this issue? Can eating habits really be a danger to you? We’ll be exploring some of these that in the following article.

Awareness is Key

Emotional eating usually hits very suddenly out of nowhere and seeks out specific cravings to be filled. Often times these powerful cravings are for sugar and fat filled snacks because of the powerful rush of dopamine that turns on the reward and pleasure centers of the brain after consumption. Eating like this repeatedly eventually overrides the signals of hunger and satiety. Seeking out comfort food and this kind of gratification leads to overeating and morbid obesity. Children can also develop early obesity when they learn this type of self-soothing. Many snack foods (especially candy and baked goods) are marketed to children. Some other snacks are associated with memories of fun times, childhood, or loved ones. Unfortunately, the methods that are used to produce foods of these foods typically contain high levels of salt, sugars, fats, artificial colors and preservative agents.

It is an Unhealthy Way to Cope with Emotions

Emotional eating is often used as a way to avoid dealing with complex or negative emotions. Not every trigger will be the same for each person, but these could include a range of emotions and feelings including anxiety, boredom, loneliness, disgust, sadness, and even joy. The emotional danger is the continued neglect of the real reasons behind these emotions. A feeling of shame or guilt might follow binges. This is especially true when the behavior is hidden from friends or family. Seek professional help, or tell a trusted friend or relative if you feel isolated or lonely and are forming unhealthy eating habits.

There are Health Risks

If a person uses eating as a way to escape or distract their emotions, a vicious cycle can develop. For example, a person who seeks food to cope with stress will create a paradox where weight-related health issues arise like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and back or joint pain. Beyond the difficulties surrounding obesity,  other health issues such as insomnia, anxiety, malnutrition, digestive problems, menstrual problems, and depression can develop.

Tips to overcome Emotional Eating

If you are overeating and appear to be experiencing any of these symptoms or health problems, it is never too late to make a new choice. After tapping into your support system, here are a few other ways to get back on track:

  • Keep a food diary – even if you use an online one like https://www.myfitnesspal.com/
  • Tame your stress – be intentional about your stress relieving activities. Find some ideas for creating a stress-free environment here
  • Remove temptation – Don’t have a cupboard full of junk food and do not go grocery shopping until your emotions are in check
  • Have healthy options on hand – When you feel the urge to snack in between meals, have something good and healthy like fruit, nuts, vegetables, or lower calorie versions of your favorite snacks
  • Give yourself a break – Don’t punish or deprive yourself. Even if you make a mistake—forgive yourself and recommit to start fresh again. Learn from your experience and plan to do better. Let your support system know that you are serious about changing it and ask for their assistance when needed.
  • Resources:
    Mood, food and obesity. Frontiers in Psychology. September 1, 2014.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4150387/
  • Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20047342?pg=2

Overcoming Heart Trauma – Part I

It wasn’t the best time for a crisis to come, but they never come when we are ready.

My daughter, the independent diva, who had her own place, made good money, and took care of her own business sheepishly admitted that she was pregnant and that because of the birth control methods she used, she wasn’t really sure when she became pregnant; and she didn’t know anything about what she is headed into. Shocked by her news, I wasn’t ready to be a grandmother, but that I also knew that wasn’t really the point.

Being a doula who has delivered over twenty babies myself with no major complications, I had to think back to my old training.

Still, I wasn’t ready.

I was just finalizing a complicated divorce and my ex and were both trying to navigate the closing up of a twenty-year relationship. There were more lose ends than a shaggy carpet.

The other issues didn’t matter. We all had to figure out what to do with a new baby who was on her way whether we were ready or not.

My adult daughter moved in with me and things were never not like they were before she was an adult.  Nothing was really the same again.

Thank God I was anchored by a good spiritual connection.  I was active in church and had many people praying for my daughter and her unborn baby.  My daughter wasn’t into church, but she  was scared about all of the unknowns of pregnancy.  She was smart enough to trust her mom and knew that I would do what I could to help her through this.

Again, that wasn’t the point.  The point was a new baby was on the way to us and we needed to get ready.

Since I had been a doula for over 15 years, and had all natural or as close to natural as possible births, I wasn’t really nervous about my abilities.

But sometimes, you don’t know what you don’t know.

This was certainly the case here.

What happened with her arrival tilted the world on a new axis and changed everything from our daily priorities to the way we interacted with each other, on every level.

The most important thing we learned was about how a crisis can either be a curse or a blessing, and how each day gives us a chance to choose which perspective we will hold.

I learned the valuable lesson about  how no matter how much we don’t want the responsibility, moms carry the emotional load by example for everyone in the family. Even the so called “estranged” family members are under her influence.

I knew that if I broke down, everyone else would break down; and if I were strong, everyone else would be strong. This was a life or death crisis.

Damn. What a trickbag.

 

Part II to be continued in three days…