Emotions can Cause Weight Gain?

Woman looking sadly at a table of foodOverweight? Gaining Weight? Not sure what has caused the pounds to pack on? Most people think overeating, poor diet and lack of exercise is the cause but ever think it’s how you are feeling mentally? Have you ever asked yourself “am I happy?” or “where was the last time I was happy?” Emotional eating is a very common cause of weight gain and obesity. Your emotional and mental health are very important to your overall health. Some people don’t make the connection that the reason your gaining weight is your emotional health. 75% of over eating is caused by emotional stress, that is a problem. Emotional eating is when you eat because you need comfort, whether you are sad, stressed, lonely or bored. Eating “comfort food” can help numb the bad feelings and give you something to occupy yourself and give you happiness.

What Causes Emotional Eating?

Fat Man at table with too much food and a laptopDo you find comfort in food because of social situations and anxiety, conflicts or just depression? Are you bored or lonely? When I was a child they only way to get seconds was to eat faster than my brothers, so I grew accustomed to eating fast which can cause you to over eat. By the time my stomach showed signs of feeling full I had already over indulged. Going out to social events with free food, or to restaurants where everyone gets appetizers, entrees and desserts. These events cause you to eat to fit in with the group and also over eat. When everyone at your table is eating unhealthy entrees of course you are influenced to make the same bad choices. Sometimes a daily routine causes us to overeat. Scheduled lunch breaks, busy schedules where you know you won’t be able to eat for hours so you over compensate now. Sometimes we are so busy that we forget to eat and then starve causing us to scarf down as much food as possible. Emotions in general cause us to overeat. If you’re excited and joyous going out to celebrate you are more prone to eating fun foods than a salad or sandwich. We can get upset and emotional that we crave sweets and sugary mixed drinks. I know women will tend to crave chocolate and salty snacks when emotional. If you are stressed you may binge eat to relax your nerves. Sometimes when I am overwhelmed and stressed I like to disengage with a snack because it relaxes my mind and nerves, it’s a reason to chill out. If you are lonely it’s very common to overeat. Make food for two and then eat for two. Portion control is very difficult when alone. If I am with someone I will eat less and have that distraction to not eat more. If I am alone I will get seconds and eat snacks just to feel occupied. It’s even harder to not binge eat when you have health issues like low blood sugar. If my blood sugar is low I feel horrible and very weak. The faster I get sugar in my system, the quicker I will feel better. This is when I scarf down a candy bar and chug a soda. All this sugar can be addictive. The sugar can boost your endorphins making you feel high and happy. When this high is gone you crave even more sugar.

When Emotional Eating Causes Serious Problems

A woman lying in bed staring at a plate with a cherry tomatoFrom a psychological standpoint, emotional eating can cause a lot of problems like eating disorders. Say you are feeling fat and upset for over indulging. So, you starve yourself from all food. Then you feel sick and deprived so you binge eat. This makes you feel great but then you quickly feel regret and anger which causes the cycle to start again. In extreme cases the regret and anger can cause the purging of all the food consumed. This can become a very dangerous and life-threatening situation.

How to Control your Emotional Eating Habits

A happy couple eating healthy plates of foodThe easiest way to control yourself from over indulging is to be mindful of what, when and where you eat. If you eat fast then be aware of each bite, calm yourself and enjoy it, there is no race. If you eat more when alone, then occupy your mind, be active and be busy. If you need to eat or indulge keep only healthy snacks in the house so you’re never packing on the calories and fat. Be aware of portion size when eating in a group. Sometimes we get distracted and eat way more than we should. If you have a small plate then there’s no way you can over eat. If stress is causing you to over eat then go for a walk instead, take a bath, listen to music. There’s many things you can do to not overeat. If you have that strong of a need to consume something, then drink a glass of water. When it comes to low blood sugar, a soda and candy bar doesn’t have to be your only savior, try an apple or a glass of orange juice instead. All in all, the things you need to be aware of when tempted to over indulge is to slow down. Think about what you are feeling and eating. Be patient, don’t jump to food as the first option. If you over eat it’s not the end of the world, you will slip up. Still feeling like your emotions are getting the best of you? Is anxiety the reason behind your eating habits and weight gain? Check out my previous article, it will help you learn to suppress your anxiety.