It is arguably the hardest addiction to overcome; you cannot just go ‘cold turkey’ on food like you can with most other addictions – after all, you have to eat to stay alive.
There are many reasons why people reach for food as comfort. Food is proven to make us feel good. When we eat – especially fatty, sugary foods – we release dopamine and the reward part of our brain lights up like a Christmas tree. So if you are feeling stressed or low, food will make you feel better – but only for a very short amount of time. Following the high is usually a guilty low, and so the cycle begins.
Diets will work for a time, mainly because it will give you something new to focus on, still allowing you to ignore any negative emotions or control issues lurking within. However, the cycle, for most people, will start again at some point and weight will be regained.
The only way to overcome emotional eating is to deal with the events and beliefs that have led you to this point. Some will have been with you since childhood, some you will have experienced and learned along the way. Tune into your body, learn to recognise real hunger vs. emotional hunger. Take a moment to notice what has triggered you to reach for food, how are you feeling? You will start to recognise a pattern – then you are on course for genuine improvement.
Visit www.safehaven-therapy.com/emotional-eating to find out more about emotional eating and how to break the cycle.