Over eating and emotional eating is just another sign that you are in fact human.
You’ll see a lot of articles about how to fight the occasional eat-fest, in fact I dare you to find one woman’s or man’s magazine near the holidays and at the beginning of summer that doesn’t address this issue.
In these magazines, and even on weight loss forums all over the net, you’ll see suggestions with how to beat it: eat this food, don’t eat that food. Go for a walk, take a bath. But let’s be honest, if these things worked, we’d all be prunes from taking all of those bubble baths and ben and jerry’s would be out of business….well, okay, they’d have to at least sell the summer home in Buenos Aires.
So here’s some more practical advice on discovering your reasons for binging and how to heal from them:
There are only 2 possibilities for eating past hunger:
1) you’re not getting enough nutrients from the foods you eat.
If this is true, your cravings will be for very particular food groups and will often come with other health problems like light headedness, cranky moodswings, headaches, muscle cramps, etc.
For example, someone that does not get enough protein or is getting too much protein will crave sugary foods because both proteins and sugars will show up in your blood sugar insulin levels, keeping the right amount of proteins in your diet will keep sugar cravings at bay. If this is you, you may feel fatigued in your workouts, have irregular periods or feel sluggish.
People on over restrictive diets low on calories will crave carbohydrates and sugars because these are the sources more quickly turned into energy in the body.
If you know that you’re not eating well or are on a ___diet (fill the blank in with any one food item and you KNOW it’s a bad idea), this could be your reason. Do you feel hungry constantly, do you have trouble sleeping? These could be signs of imbalanced carbohydrates in your diet.
2)you’re not getting enough emotional outlets in your life.
Look, we’re emotional beings. We eat for hunger, yes, but we also eat because we’re stressed, tired, lonely, bored, celebrating. And we’re not the only ones. I’ve watched my cat eat until she puked (and then eat the puke, and then puke the puked food and eat it again) because she was lonely, so why should we expect more from ourselves? Okay, fine, don’t eat what you’ve puked.
If you know this is why you over eat, I ask you to think of one question: What feeling am I seeking when I eat too much?
This one question will get you a lot more than you may think. If you eat until you feel happy, what happened today or earlier that made you UNhappy? If you eat until you feel calm, what made you irritated? Generally, emotional eating form their own kind of food groups:
Crunchy salty foods = aggravation, irritation.
Sweet, soft doughy,creamy foods = sadness, need for consolation.
Soft, salty foods = boredom, loneliness.
Fatty, fried foods = feeling spacy, ungrounded, unsure.
Now of course there’s no science book that’s going to break down these parallels in what you eat, when and why. You could be ready to punch your boss in the face and reach for ice cream, not chips, but hey, don’t you want someone to console you after you punch him?
In the end, if you can start with knowing why YOU eat too much, that’s more than half the battle.
So I’m not saying the next time you go shopping to distract yourself from the Dorito aisle because it’s “bad”, but just think, what do I want to feel after I eat this? and see if that changes anything.