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“Not everyone uses food to cope. Food is ideally a fuel for our body, not a way to medicate our feelings. What is your tendency?” Coach Georgianne
Emotional eating is a term used for people who turn to the fridge when feelings or emotions seem overwhelming. Most often, these are feelings that people want to relieve, like anger, sadness, boredom, or stress.
Emotional eating happens for everyone sometimes, and for other people, it can happen on a regular basis. Other people tend to skip meals when they are stressed.
The relationship between food and emotions is complicated, and each of us has our own tendency and method.
Emotional eating is complicated because it is associated with a wide spectrum of causes and reactions. Eating a single candy bar on the way home from work could be seen as a simple version of emotional eating. Perhaps you have rushed around all day and have not eaten enough. Perhaps your blood sugar has crashed and you truly need calories right now!
At the other end of the spectrum, many people struggle with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, or another type of disordered eating. These more extreme situations can cause serious health problems and may require the help of compassionate, expert medical teams. As a holistic health coach, I have talked to hundreds of people who feel prompted to turn to food for both difficult and celebratory reasons…even when they are not hungry at all! I include myself in this behavior.
Every human has needs, and sometimes, they are not met. Some are basic human needs and others are optional or perhaps even “earned” as we live our lives, grow and thrive. When our human needs are not being met on a regular basis, we feel stress. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs tells us that the basic human need for food must be met before we can move on to things like seeking an education, feeling secure, or making new friends.
Beyond getting our basic physiological needs met, many of us can then look for ways to have comfort, feelings of safety, as well as seeking our right livelihood. No one’s life is perfect. When it comes to friendships, achievements, and peak experiences, we can still feel prompted to use emotional eating as a coping tool.
The message is loud and clear! Donuts work. Simple sugars digest quickly and supply our brains with a rush of dopamine, and that is calming. The food industry knows this and many foods exist for the simple purpose of helping humans “get through” their day.
Have you experienced a chaotic reaction to life that prompts you to eat even when your body is not hungry? I know that I have. Sometimes, the habit of eating a couple of cookies at 3 pm can become a habit that’s difficult to break.
Emotional eating can be released as a coping tool! There are a variety of techniques for changing behavior and thoughts that have nothing to do with donuts. If you are concerned that emotional eating may be derailing your attempts at healthy eating, consider these holistic health options that can help you avoid using food to manage your feelings: