Have you ever notice that when you experience stress or are upset you eat? Consider that you are actually eating your feelings. Often when people do this they eat sugary or salty foods and they feel better, but only temporarily. This is because every time we eat our brain releases dopamine. The more we eat, the larger the amount of dopamine the brain releases. In fact, the more sugary and processed foods we eat, the larger the hit of dopamine we receive. Other hormones like insulin, leptin and ghrelin are also involved. Insulin goes up when we eat and down over time. However, if we eat too many processed or sugary foods insulin will go too high and drop too low too fast. This blocks leptin and ghrelin from telling us when we are truly full and when we are truly hungry. Instead we overeat and get hungry soon after we eat causing us to eat more processed foods and/or sugar to get the hit of dopamine that feels good.
It becomes vicious cycle. This is because our brains are wired to be efficient and avoid pain. We feel stress (pain). How we deal with pain is not a new experience for us. Somewhere along the way we conditioned our brain to stop examining and dealing with our feelings and instead eat to feel better. My mom reminds me that as a kid if she and her brother felt bad, her mom gave them a cookie to help them feel better. The brain, trained to avoid pain and be efficient, has learned the most efficient way to feel better quick is to eat.
The problem with all of this is it causes us to be physically unhealthy. I used to eat my feelings. I told people “I am a chocoholic” and “Chocolate is an essential food group.” I was serious. A former employer said she could always tell how my day was going based on the number of candy bars I ate. I also weighed 231 pounds and had multiple health issues. I tried many weight loss programs and successfully took off the weight several times only to gain it back. This is because most weight loss programs only tell you how and what to eat and not eat. They don’t address the core reason for overeating.
There are many reasons for overeating, but they all start with our thinking. See if you can identify with any of these thoughts about eating:
It is normal to eat to celebrate. I’ll be left out if I don’t eat with them. Food is meant to be enjoyed. Cooking and eating with my family equals love. Eating sweets is part of life. All foods in moderation. Life would be terrible without delicious food. Parties without food and drink aren’t fun. Just this once, it won’t matter. It’s normal to overeat and be overweight. Diets are hell. Cutting pack is painful. I should be able to eat anything I want. Losing weight is hard.
Some of the above thoughts may feel true to you. They may feel like facts. I would like to suggest you consider they are only thoughts and choosing to think any thought is always optional. You can choose to think a different thought that serves you instead of the thought that has you eating in an unhealthy way.
I hear you saying: “Ok, ok, I get it. So, what am I supposed to do now?” Healthy eating and thought work go hand in hand. Studies suggest that giving up sugar and flour is a start (just a start, there is more to do about what and how you eat after that). I know giving up flour and sugar sounds awful and hard. It did to me too, when I was introduced to this idea three weeks ago. But I am one and half weeks without sugar and flour and I don’t miss it. I also chose to give up all artificial sweeteners. I committed to doing my thought work. FYI my weight is down almost four pounds!
Here are some questions to get you started on your thought work:
- What are the emotions you try to avoid having on a daily basis?
- When and how often do you normally experience these emotions?
- How does deciding to overeat affect these emotions?
- How does overeating affect these emotions?
- How do you feel after you have overeaten? How does it affect the emotions you ate to avoid?
- What do you imagine your day would be like if you felt these emotions instead of overeating?
Answering these questions are just the beginning of learning to deal with your negative feelings instead of eating. If you would like help with this or would like to learn how to give up flour and sugar and what comes next, schedule a free sample session with me at: www.CindysCalendar.com