There are various reasons why people eat in extreme excess, including:
- To increase pleasure as an anti-depressant or sleep aid: Eating sugars and fats releases opioids in our brains, so the calm, soothing effects that you feel when you eat high-sugar and high-fat foods are real! Breaking these habits can be as hard as overcoming a serious addiction. These also increase neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine which makes us feel good. Especially if you require that hit to increase melatonin and cross your blood-brain barrier to get to sleep at night.
- Inability to tolerate difficulty: We learn from a young age to avoid things that feel bad. Unfortunately, the ways we have found to distract ourselves from those emotions can be dangerous, especially with the rise of lifestyle-related illnesses and diseases specifically obesity. Obesity in Australia is one of the biggest public health challenges facing the population with more than 60% of Australian adults being obese and 10% severely obese.
- Body Loathing: Hating your body is one of the biggest factors in emotional eating. Negativity, shame, and hatred rarely inspire people to make long-lasting positive/healthy changes, especially when it comes to our bodies or our sense of self. That psychology is deep-seated. You must stop hating your body BEFORE you can stop the emotional eating cycle and achieve long term body composition results.
- Physiology: Letting yourself get too hungry or tired is the best way to leave yourself vulnerable to emotional eating. When your body is hungry or tired it sends strong messages to your brain that signal it to eat. Glucose/Sugar is the quickest form of energy we can consume. Not to mention sugar feeds our ‘bad’ gut bugs such as firmicutes which have been linked to obesity and rebound weight gain after weight loss. Start to become in tune with yourself and know when you are tired, thirsty or emotional.
How do you overcome overeating? There are many options but these are my top 3:
- Sleep: Aim for at least 8 hours of quality sleep per night for optimal hormonal recovery, memory storage and circadian rhythm alignment. Keep your sleep patterns as regular as possible as this will correlate directly to the timing of your meals.
- Holistic approaches: Incorporate some holistic serotonin and dopamine boosting activities into your week such as:
- Going for a walk outdoors (less than 7,500 steps per day increases our hunger hormone Ghrelin)
- Breath! (Deep breathing into your belly can help induce a relaxed parasympathetic state)
- Meditation or headspace apps
- Yin Yoga (the most therapeutic form of yoga with an array of physical, emotional and mental benefits)
- Get a massage!
- Food selection: Include tryptophan foods into your diet such as turkey and nuts. This will help boost melatonin to help you get to sleep as night. Having carbohydrates at night such as basmati rice or sweet potato to allow your melatonin to cross your blood-brain barrier and induce sleep.
Emotional eating is a powerful and effective way to find temporary relief from many of life’s challenges. If it didn’t work so well, no one would do it. You don’t eat because you’re hungry, but because you feel empty or sad inside.
Let yourself experience difficult feelings. Get honest without yourself about why you are feeling mad, sad, rejected, or bored? Then, once you know the what and why you can work on making a positive change to address your new-found insight you have and align your life with what you value most so that every day you wake up feeling inspired and ALIVE.
Yours in health,
Amy Needham / Clean Health Fitness Institute Coach
Clean Health Fitness Institute
Editors Note: If you want to learn more about nutrition and how to support yourself or your client’s diets better, you need to do our ‘Performance Nutrition Coach’ level 1 certification. CLICK HERE to learn how you can start learning now and pay later!