If you are eating every time you feel angry, sad, lonely or frustrated then the question should not be “what are you eating? ” but rather “what is eating you?” Repressed emotions are the number one reason why individuals resort to overeating.
This is very common in women who rarely have the opportunity to express their emotions. Women who are angry are perceived as bitches, women who are sad are “depressed”, women who are lonely are “too needy” and women who are frustrated are “not nurturers.” Society puts a lot of pressure on women to not fulfill these many stereotypes and the result is a lot of females resorting to binge eating and other behaviors in order to help them repress those emotions.
Overeating provides comfort, is an act of defiance and is something that the woman can control. This repression of the emotions by eating too much is officially known is psychology circles as “stuffing your anger.”
The irony of overeating to combat hostility is that very few women enjoy it while they are doing it. No matter what negative emotion you are feeling, the eating is also a distraction from the real cause of the anger.
In fact many women feel so guilty about breaking their diet or healthy promises to themselves that the anger that was formerly focused on a lover, child or a boss is turned inward causing problems with self-esteem. Many over eaters don’t even notice the taste of the food they are eating. The worst-case scenarios binge and purge and develop dangerous disorders such as bulimia and anorexia.
There is a whole category of emotional overeaters that specifically crave sugar when they are in an uncomfortable emotional state. Sugar raises levels of serotonin, a feel good brain chemical and is a quick fix for anxiety or depression.
The problem is that this quick fix only lasts so long before the emotional overeater experiences a “crash” and feels worse then ever. This then compels the person to eat even more empty calories in the form of sugar in an attempt to self medicate their moods. Sometimes an antidepressant can help an individual get over this type of disorder so talk to your doctor if you think you are motivated to eat too much because of depression or anxiety.
Professional psychotherapy, stress management and more exercise are recommended for over eaters who want to stop stuffing down their anger. Addressing the deeper underlying emotional issues and triggers (people, situations and things) that you cause you to gorge yourself in the first place is the first step.
In psychotherapy you will be asked to recognize that your life will never be free of problems and dealing rationally with those problems, as opposed to emotionally is part of being an adult. You will be asked to stop believing that eating out of defiance actually shows your enemies a thing or two. It is usually the emotionally insecure women that resorts to overeating simply because she has always depended on others to create a happy life rather than herself.
Learning not to sweat the small stuff and to recognize that your feelings are not necessarily a reflection of the reality of a situation can also give you the maturity you need to break a weakness of character such as emotional overeating.
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