Emotional Overeating: How To Identify it and Overcome it.

Emotional overeating is a psychological state that when it appears it leads to the consumption of foods with high levels of carbohydrates like chocolate, sweets, cakes, cookies etc. The problem with this specific psychological state is that it is very hard to identify it, as the symptoms are often confused with hunger cravings.

The perception of this state as a problematic one, which needs to be attended to, is critical and failure to do just that, can lead to significant fat accumulation as we tend to create exceptionally wrong eating habits.

Needless to add that excess fat accumulation constitutes a "highway" to obesity.

Physiologically, what happens with emotional overeating is that our poor state of psychology creates a hormonal imbalance. The consumption of sugary foods elevates the sugar levels in our blood which, in its turn, triggers an increase of insulin as a mean to lower the sugar levels in our blood stream.

This abrupt up and down of sugar and insulin levels create cravings which lead to further consumption of such “comfort foods”. Insulin, although an essential hormone for our body functions, is also known to be the most powerful fat-making hormone. So we should be very careful with whatever causes insulin imbalances, as well as raise our awareness as to what exactly causes such an imbalance.

Emotional overeating, if left unattended, can have many negative side effects which would lead to serious health problems, starting from rapid weight gain (which can lead to obesity) and ending up with serious cardiovascular conditions like a heart attack or a stroke. This is the reason why it is essential to be able to identify the problem and eliminate it as soon as possible.

What causes emotional overeating and how to identify it.

The reasons behind the developing of such a condition usually are of a social, psychological, mental, situational, financial, or even health-related nature.

It is interesting that sometimes we fail to make the distinction between our usual physical hunger and our emotional hunger, because the differences are really small. Experts at the University of Texas-Counseling and Mental Health Center suggest a few hints with which, we can identify emotional hunger and prevent possible emotional overeating:

• In contrast to physical cravings which always come gradually, emotional hunger is always abrupt, spontaneous, and comes absolutely suddenly.

• Unlike physical cravings, emotional hunger gives us cravings that should be satisfied immediately and cannot wait.

• Emotional hunger is always specifically targeted: it requires a very special food like a chocolate bar or a pack of potato chips, and physical hunger alway/s gives us a good room for making a choice.

• Emotional cravings make us eat even when we are full, whereas usual physical hunger disappears shortly after we are full.

• Finally, emotional eating is always accompanied with some feeling of guilt, but physical hunger is not.

How to overcome it!

If we consider that emotional overeating creates eating habits which are not good for us, then breaking up these habits is nothing close to an easy task. It will require great amounts of effort and self discipline in order to mobilize us towards the right direction and break them.

As mentioned earlier, it is absolutely necessary to identify the reasons that trigger emotional cravings. Once that is done, then we can use all possible techniques to lower their effects or totally eliminate them.

One technique, that could be used for emotional cravings caused by stress or depression, is to learn the best stress management techniques, such as diaphragmatic breathing, yoga, meditation,other relaxation techniques and anti-stress herbal remedies, in order to reduce their effects.

Another way to overcome emotional overeating, which is caused by social isolation and a lack of self-actualization, is to become member of groups of people with similar interests to yours or try to find new fields to demonstrate your talents and skills.

Another simple, yet overlooked, idea is to consciously get busy with something else, such as reading a book,taking a walk,jogging, doing housework, having a séance of aromatherapy, learning to play guitar, writing stories or blogposts, spending time with friends, or learning to knit by hand and many other similar options.

Specialists of Mayo Clinic also recommend getting some support from friends and family, getting enough of sleep, using healthy snacks during the day, as well as looking for professional help. That last suggestion should be kept in mind , in case all other self-help ones fail to provide a positive result.


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