Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Emotional Overeating Awareness Month

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By Diane Forrest, RN

Have you ever watched a movie, more specifically a "chick flick" where a female is upset about something and grabs a pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream and a spoon to help make her feel better?  Do you know newlyweds who have added extra pounds during their first year of marriage?  Were you a college student who added some weight your first year away from home?  These are all examples of Emotional Overeating.  Emotional eating is the practice of consuming large quantities of food -- usually "comfort" or junk foods -- in response to feelings instead of hunger.

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Several emotions can trigger a round of overeating.  These include:  Depression, anger, stress, boredom, loneliness, frustration even happiness can ignite the need for comfort foods.  Some situations that can lead to overeating include:
  • Unemployment;
  • Financial pressure;
  • Health problems;
  • Relationship conflicts;
  • Work stress;
  • Bad weather; and or
  • Fatigue.

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Emotional overeating can quickly develop into obesity which can lead to other health problems such as diabetes and hypertension.  The purpose of becoming aware of this problem is to first identify that you have an emotional eating problem, then seek alternative methods to eliminate the problems besides eating the "comfort foods".  Here are some alternative solutions to eating:
  • Read a good book or magazine or listen to music;
  • Go for a walk or jog;
  • Take a bubble bath;
  • Do deep breathing exercises;
  • Play cards or a board game;
  • Talk to a friend;
  • Do housework, laundry or yard work;
  • Wash the car;
  • Write a letter;
  • Or do any other pleasurable or necessary activity until the urge to eat passes.

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April is Emotional Overeating Awareness month.  For more tips on how to end this cycle, click on this site:  http://health.usnews.com/health-news/diet-fitness/brain-and-behavior/articles/2010/07/01/5-ways-to-end-emotional-overeating

If you feel that you need help with these issues, seek help from a professional, either a doctor, therapist, or psychiatrist.

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