Emotional overeating


Emotional overeating is turning to food for comfort, stress relief, or as a reward, rather than to satisfy hunger.  There is only one solution to lose weight and that is to eat the right quantity of food and food that is healthy.

We need to understand the triggers that lead us to an emotional state that causes overeating.

The triggers that can occur are:

  • Eating for comfort – when sad, lonely or bored.
  • Feeling angry or disappointed.
  • Feeling anxious or stressed.
  • Feeling tired and in need of energy.
  • Feeling criticised.
  • At functions, celebrations and parties.
  • Eating for enjoyment and pleasure.
  • For immediate gratification.
  • To avoid facing problems.
  • When living in a dysfunctional relationship.
  • Living with negative emotions, eg: unforgiveness, resentment, repressed hostility and unresolved grief.

Emotional abuse is another factor that can lead to overeating. A person is emotionally abusive who:

  • Refuses to consider your opinion.
  • Always has to be right.
  • Devalues your feelings.
  • Makes unnecessary demands.
  • Brings up past hurts.
  • Gives conditional love.
  • Use threats, force, anger or intimidation.
  • Judges harshly.
  • Screams, yells or uses name-calling methods.

One must try to remove oneself from these situations and seek help from a professional,  who can offer the techniques required to deal with this destructive behaviour.

The real core reason for the overeating must be understood and then resolved before any change can be effective. Once understood, there can be real motivation to change.  Often a photograph of oneself becomes a reality check, when all the body bulges are seen clearly and the truth of how we really look sinks in.  The reflection in the mirror does not always have the same effect, as often we do not see ourselves correctly.

Motivation to change needs a powerful goal and this needs to be very strong; stronger than the desire for chocolate every day.     Goals could be the desire to avoid diabetes, joint problems and improve ones health or fitness,   or even for a special occasion.

The motivation may also be to allow corrective surgery in the future, to improve the body shape and contour.

Try to have at least one positive person around you to help change the negative self talk that we constantly berate ourselves with –  such as:   I cant do this,  I don’t want to  follow the rules of sensible eating and I want to eat what I want – etc etc.   This type of negative self-talk is self defeating and destructive.   If you believe you can never do it, you will feel powerless and also feel that you have no control of the situation.  This will block the motivation required to even begin.

Some people say it is will power alone, but the answer lies in your emotional life.  The answer is not resorting to chemical means, such as to sedatives, alcohol and high calorie comfort foods, which provide only short lived relief and leads to poor health.

You may feel your weight has nothing to do with your own choices, but in fact you could be contributing to the problem, blaming other issues and people for your increased weight – using excuses.  For example:

  • The diet I was on stopped working.
  • My metabolism is too slow.
  • We had a family gathering and I had to eat.
  • A surgical procedure I had is not working.
  • The genes I was born with are causing my issues.

On the other hand, there may be some medical causes which can be hormonal, such as thyroid, pituitary or adrenal conditions, high insulin levels and leptin resistance. These can be checked with the appropriate blood tests.

Change is always easier to make when we remove temptations.    All cupboards, refrigerators, cars and offices need to be cleared of unhealthy high sugar, high fat comfort foods.  Also, we must avoid all fast food outlets, where portion sizes have increased and we are constantly pressured to “up size”.   We do not need these foods that are high in sugar, high in fat and high in salt.  They are all addictive and damage the inner organs of the body.

When you make yourself responsible for your own choices and actions and understand and resolve your emotional issues,  the power to change is enormous.

There is, unfortunately, no instant solution.  The process to climb a mountain is to take one step at a time,  focus on one kilogram at a time  – to shed the excess.

From little things big things grow – by that we mean SUCCESS – just like Paul Kelly!

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  • (08) 8267 6844
  • Suite 8, 1st Floor
    183 Tynte Street

    North Adelaide, SA, 5006


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