When your overeating is triggered by stressful situations, you can become a victim, turning to high-calorie and high carbohydrate foods that often have very little, if any, nutritional value. When you struggle with emotional eating, you regularly have factors that might trigger your overeating episode. Emotional eating is a real addiction often diagnosed by health assessments that evaluate physical, emotional, or mental wellness.
A major part of addiction recovery involves teaching the individual better, healthier ways to look at food while creating healthier eating habits. This wellness step begins when you are able to recognize triggers that prompt overeating behaviors. Prevention begins as you learn healthier ways to cope and alleviate stress. Emotional eating, like other addictions, has the potential to grow into other problems, such as obesity or diseases that include diabetes type 2 or other health problems.
Addiction recovery involves teaching the sufferer healthier ways to view food, learning better eating habits, recognizing triggers that evoke such behavior, and developing appropriate ways to prevent and alleviate stress. As you begin your journey towards breaking the cycle, you learn to view food as a source of fuel, not a problem solver. Recovery involves finding constructive ways to deal with your emotions instead of turning to food. Many former drug or alcohol addicts turn to emotional eating in a process called shifting addictions. An ongoing part of their recovery remains learning healthy ways to deal with emotions.
Emotional eaters crave foods known as comfort foods. These foods are described as high carbohydrate or high calorie junk foods with very little nutritional value. Emotional eaters are diagnosed by professionals as sufferers of atypical depression. Many emotional eaters are not clinically depressed, but are chronic sufferers of stress who turn to eating as a means of coping.
Research shows girls and women are at higher risk for eating disorders, but men are not immune. Cortisol is a hormone that produces symptoms similar to those produced under stress, like increased breathing and faster heart rate. This response to stress results in emotional eating of comfort “junk food.” Also, studies show that emotional eaters try to fill a void with food. Some studies suggest a lack of nutrition or food used as a reward or punishment in youth could have played a role in creating the emotional eater.
Recovery opens up a whole new world of possibilities. With a greater understanding of your emotions, you choose alternatives that keep you in control. This strengthens you more and more each day as you emerge a winner over emotional eating.