We have all been there; you are getting home after a long day at work, you feel stressed out and tired, and the first thing you do after dropping your shoes is to open the fridge and before you know you are eating a sandwich, a bag of chips, drinking 2 cans of soda and have your eyes set on the Oreo pack next. Sounds familiar?
Either you were very hungry or it might be emotional eating. This is a state where one eats to satisfy emotional needs rather than physical hunger.
Triggers for Emotional Eating
So what triggers emotional eating? Contrary to the popular belief, emotional eating is not just caused by boredom, but numerous reasons that can range from fear to childhood trauma can cause one to binge eat. Here are a few triggers:
1- Fear: Your body naturally fears starvation, so when we feel fearful we follow our natural instinct of survival that can lead us to eat (in excess) to survive.
2- Stress/Anxiety: In Anxiety, like in stress, we overeat because the act of eating can be done in seeking relaxation. That is why when people are under stressful situations they have a tendency to binge.
3- Protection: According to psychologist when we feel unprotected we overeat (unconsciously) because when we gain weight we are constructing a physical protection to make us feel safer and stronger.
4- Childhood Trauma: We seek food (comfort food) that gives us a sense of security and safety. Many of these meals are the ones we used to eat as kids (pancakes, cookies, candies etc) and we eat them seeking the feeling of being taken care of.
My Personal Story
As I have mentioned before in previous blog posts I was born and raised in Mexico and moved to California at the age of 18. I was living with 2 roomies, however being away from home brought about homesickness and feelings of loneliness. Pizza, diet coke, and peanut butter sandwiches were the foundation of my diet. Chipotle was a weekend treat, along with a double double with animal fries from In and Out. Before I knew I gained 20 kilos (45 pounds) and I was covered in acne.
When I came back to Mexico, I realized the vicious cycle I was stuck in. I was eating to comfort myself, but that eating made me gain weight, which ultimately made me depressed and to feel better I ate again. And this went on and on. When I realized what was happening, I started controlling what went in my stomach. I replaced junk food with veggies and healthy diet. This broke the cycle and soon I lost all the excess weight and became more confident and happy than before.
We want to help you break the cycle too and get free of binge eating with a couple of tips that worked wonders for me.
Beating Off Binge Eating
1- Identify your triggers: Before digging into surface issues like watching your diet and so, we recommend to learn to identify the emotions that can lead you to binge. Before binge eating, I started asking myself about my feelings and emotions. If I was feeling anxious or stressed about something, I stopped and dealt with the feeling first.
2- Meditate/Pray: After you identify the trigger, we recommend to take action and deal with it in a positive way. Go for a run, meditate, or pray, whatever makes you feel safe and better. You will realize that most of the times after we deal with the emotion, the craving to binge is gone.
3- Make healthier choices: I honestly don’t recommend to make a “huge” change in your diet because you will feel overwhelmed, do small changes instead. Order a tall drink instead of a venti, ask for a veggie side instead of the pasta, change the half-and-half for skim milk. Going step by step will make you feel like you are advancing without feeling restricted.
4- Move: Working out doesn’t necessarily means hitting the gym, or running a marathon. A simple brisk walk, dancing around the house, or even walking to a short destination can be a game changer. Find out what works for you, and overall discover the activities that you enjoy. This will help you feel better and make you healthier as well.
Breaking the cycle can be difficult at first and can even be overwhelming at times, but if you move step by step you’ll see wonderful results very soon.
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