- Stomach hunger: Stomach hunger is exactly that: the feeling when you experience hunger pangs, stomach growling, and you physically need food. It tends to mount as more time passes since your last meal, and is dependent on factors like the hypothalamus in your brain, your blood sugar levels, hormone levels in your body, and how empty your stomach is. Feeling tired, moody, light-headed, having a headache, or finding it difficult to focus are all symptoms of real physical hunger.
- Mind hunger: Otherwise known as "psychological hunger," this type of hunger is often caused by emotions triggered by stress, sadness, boredom, and even sometimes happiness. You aren't physiologically hungry, and you tend to eat more than normal since you don't know when to stop. Usually, you crave one particular thing, and if you wait it out, the craving tends to go away. The key is to recognize your cravings and to learn how to control them. Thanks to our brains, fatty, sugary foods release chemicals called opioids into our bloodstream. It's these chemicals that put us in a mild euphoric "feel good" state, therefore just reinforcing our cravings.
We have all medicated our moods with chocolate or pizza at some point in our lives. While experts know that certain meals soothe us, the exact reasons remain a bit of a mystery. New research, however, sheds light on the hows and whys of emotional eating. Researchers found that even without seeing, smelling, or tasting food, study participants were better at battling negative emotions with saturated fat in their bellies rather than saline solution. High levels of saturated fat are found in hard-to-resist comfort foods like ice cream and bacon.Although the study was small, the results illustrate that the comfort you derive from comfort food isn't all in your head; there's a physiological component too — independent of our sensory experience or emotional attachment to the food. The exact mechanism is unclear, but researchers believe saturated fat triggers a release of stomach hormones that positively stimulates the brain.
We know that high levels of saturated fat are not good for the body, and while a bit of mac-n-cheese might soothe you in the short term, it's good to find other means of calming your nerves and buoying your spirit. Exercising outside can boost your mood, but what happens when you find yourself feeling down at midnight? Psychologist Dr. Susan Albers, author of 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food, suggests tuning into your senses rather than reaching for the Doritos. Focusing on what you hear, see, and smell, in a kind of sensory medication, can help you side step an emotional food craving.
There must be countless ways to soothe yourself without food. How do you calm your stressed nerves or fend off negative emotions that don't involve raiding the fridge? Share your methods below, because we can all use new ways to avoid using food for comfort.
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America's favorite talk show host Oprah Winfrey has never hidden the fact that she's an emotional eater. In an outtake from the upcoming debut of Piers Morgan Tonight, Oprah stated that the box office failure of her movie Beloved made her so depressed that she drowned her sorrows in mac-n-cheese — about 30 pounds of it.I've had my run ins with cookies when sad, and an occasional second piece of chocolate cake when the world seems a dark and dire place. But I am not sure I would call that binge eating. What about you?
In a poll on emotional eating, 81 percent of FitSugar readers confessed that they eat as a reaction to anxiety, stress, or sadness. While I think that many of us can admit to doing this occasionally, a long history or consistent habit of emotional eating can be problematic. Instead of dealing with the issue at hand, emotional eaters mask their feelings — temporarily — with food. To get control over emotional eating, individuals first need to understand why it happens. Once you understand the characteristics of emotional eating, the next step is to regain control in your patterns. Here are some ways to regain control of your eating habits:
- Figure out your triggers: Keep a food journal of what you eat, when you eat, and why you eat it (this one is the most difficult). Knowing your motivations for why you eat will make you conscious of your triggers, and you can begin to change your patterns.
- Understand why you feel hungry: Physical hunger comes on slowly, and emotional hunger comes on quickly and is intense. Pay attention to how your stomach feels: is it rumbling and empty? Try waiting out the craving and see if the hunger subsides.
- Find other ways to take care of yourself: It's important that you "feed" yourself in other ways aside from food. Take a walk, call a friend, or any other healthy activity that soothes you. Keep a list of alternatives to refer to when in the midst of a craving.
There are a few more tips, so read more
While food is fuel for our bodies, people eat for all sorts of reasons: gluttonous tendencies and eating out of boredom are just a few. But most of the people I know that eat when they're not hungry, primarily do it because of emotional reasons.
I'd be lying if I said that I never emotionally eat. There have been a few times when a satisfying dish or dessert was my remedy to a stressful day. Food — good food, especially — is a great distraction to the problems people might be facing. But it can become a serious problem when you lose sense of how much and what kind of food you're eating or regularly turn to food as an escape. Are you the type of person that relies on food therapy to make it through the day?
You eat a balanced diet and exercise, and you lose weight. But once you reach your goal, you exchange trips to the gym for pork lo mein on the couch, and end up gaining all the weight back (and then some). You're not alone. In fact studies show that two-thirds of dieters regain more weight within four or five years than they initially lost. Even celebs aren't immune to the grasps of yo-yo-dieting. Kirstie Alley, Oprah Winfrey, and Janet Jackson have all struggled with keeping the numbers on the scale from going up.
Constant yo-yo dieting makes it harder to keep the weight off because when your body mass decreases by 10 percent or more, it ends up slowing down your metabolism by 11 to 15 percent. Going on and off diets also changes other aspects of your physiology, such as increasing the hunger hormone ghrelin, and decreasing the hormone leptin, which makes you feel satisfied and full. Doctors believe strict diets which are low in calories are the worst. Your body may see restricting your calorie intake as a threat to its survival, and that's why it holds on to the extra pounds on your tush.
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If you tend to overeat because you're stressed, overworked, or depressed, instead of turning towards food
to cope with your problems or fears, get to the root of your feelings. Satiating your soul with food is only a temporary fix, and after you binge on comforting foods, those emotions will still be with you. So ask yourself what you need in order to make your life (or that particular moment) better. Talk to a friend, your boss, make an appointment with a therapist, or write in a journal. Not only will you feel more relieved emotionally, but physically you won't feel bloated or cranky from inhaling half a package or Oreos.
Food, the nourishment for our lives, can be loaded with issues. In our troubled relationships with food, emotional eating ranks at the top of the list. Understanding the phenomenon and recognizing the symptoms are great ways to start redefining your relationship with food. The first thing to understanding the problem is recognizing the traits of emotional eating.
- Hunger that comes on suddenly: Physical hunger comes on slowly. Hunger from emotional eating often comes on quickly and suddenly.
- Craving very specific foods: Cravings for specific, usually unhealthy foods is a sign of emotional eating. Often people like the rush they get from satisfying their cravings. That rush is fulfilling emotional hunger.
- Urgent hunger: Physical hunger, unless you haven't eaten for a very long time, is usually pretty patient. It will wait for food. Emotional hunger demands to be satisfied immediately.
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The holidays are often stressful. Plus, sweet treats and rich foods come with the holiday season. This combination can really challenge the emotional eater, who reaches for food in emotionally charged times of need. The Mayo Clinic has created a list of tips for gaining control of your eating habits and here are highlights.
- Know your triggers. For the next several days, write down what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, how you're feeling when you eat and how hungry you are. Over time, you may see patterns emerge that reveal negative eating patterns and triggers to avoid.
- Look elsewhere for comfort. Instead of unwrapping a candy bar, take a walk, treat yourself to a movie, listen to music, read or call a friend. If you think that stress relating to a particular event is nudging you toward the refrigerator, try talking to someone about it to distract yourself. Plan enjoyable events for yourself.
There are a few more tips so just read more