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The Causes of Emotional Eating

In times of stress, many people reach to favorite foods for comfort. I would even venture to say that every one has done it at some point. Why is this such a common coping technique?

One reason that we eat when stressed is for the physical energy. Foods with simple carbohydrates (like sweets) can provide a quick burst of energy. Physical and/or mental energy is necessary to help us confront the stressor that is causing distress. Yes, simple carbohydrates may provide a quick burst of energy, but what isn’t used is stored.

On the other hand, complex carbohydrates can also have a calming effect. When grieving, a bowl of spaghetti helped me recover relaxation and calm. Another reason we eat when stressed is to nurture ourselves. Eating not only provides energy, but is a basic component of physical care.

Physical care is how we initially form attachments in infancy. By providing such care for ourselves, we are increasing our feeling of safety. Choosing certain comfort foods also increases feelings of safety by reminding us of family love and care.

Preparing and eating food can also simply be a distraction from whatever is causing  you stress, allowing you a chance to rest (and recover) mentally. One problem with emotional eating is when we don’t allow it to be a distraction. If you continue to think about your stressor, you are not receiving the emotional benefits of eating.

Eating mindlessly often leads to overeating, because we are not paying attention to how much we are eating, but also because we are not receiving those emotional benefits that we craved initially.

If you know why you are craving or instinctually reaching for certain foods, you may be able to make wiser, conscious choices. Emotionality is a variable that can often interfere with our goals and best choices. Although eating can be comforting to some, it may be too big of a temptation for others. Know yourself, honor your needs in whatever way best fits your goals, and pay attention to what you are doing.

May 19th, 2010

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Emotional eating is a relatively new term and highly misunderstood. What's important to realize is that there was programming done at a very early age driven by the fact that the brain has two primary directivesâ??pleasure seeking and survival. Early on we learned to associate food with survival and pleasure seeking. The good emotions such as happiness, joy, elation and so on are obviously associated with pleasure seeking and frustration, boredom, confusion, anger, depression and so on are associated with survival.

The sad news is that most programs to lose weight or deal with binging focus on food and never deal with emotional programming.

The bottom line is that focusing on what you do or do not eat to control or lose weight is like trying to fly by flapping your arms. To be successful it's important to focus on the stress of the emotion and learn to take it straight rather than diluting with food.
Now for the misunderstanding: Those who provide direction on dealing with emotional eating usually focus on the stress that led to the emotion or provide advice on how to reduce or avoid the emotion. But that's not the answer. The answer is to learn how to actually feel and embrace the emotion and articles giving you six or ten steps to conquer emotional eating is like expecting a first grader to pass the high school equivalency test. The result is that 95% of all diets and eating programs failâ??even those focusing on emotional eating. Why? For a free report please go to

In any weight loss endeavor, it's important to remember that the brain has two primary directivesâ??pleasure seeking and survival. From childhood we have learned to associate food with both. Associated with pleasure are what most call good emotionsâ??happiness, joy, elation and so on. Associated with survival are what most call bad emotionsâ??frustration, boredom, confusion, anger, depression and so on.

Unfortunately most programs to lose weight or deal with binging focus on food and forget the emotional programming.

posted May 20th, 2010 11:35 pm


Eating has become a mindless addiction.
The foods are so sugar & salt filled today we crave the taste above all else.

posted May 20th, 2010 5:29 am

Weight Loss Diet Reviews

At the end of the day it all comes down to calories in vs calories out and it will be that way until the end of time. :>)

posted May 20th, 2010 12:19 am


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