Food addiction is a real problem in our modern society. Many women especially have a lot of guilt and shame around their weight and not being able to “control” their eating. But there are solutions for persistent cravings and emotional eating that can finally tackle the underlying causes of food addiction and help you heal.
The problem of cravings and emotional eating
It is normal to sometimes find pleasure in food. In fact, we are biologically designed to find pleasure in food. Eating is a necessity for survival (obviously!) And nature ensures that we continue to seek and eat food by rewarding us with dopamine when we do. But in some cases, people can become too dependent on food for a dopamine “solution” and food addiction can develop.
The foods most commonly associated with food addiction are “very palatable” foods such as sweet, salty and fatty foods (especially the highly processed variety).
How to stop eating emotionally
Emotional eating can be really tough. Food is an inevitable part of life (we have to eat to survive!), So abstinence is not a possibility. In addition, the food must be nice! But for some people, food can become addictive. Here are some of the best ways to get to the bottom of emotional eating issues and improve your health.
Treat underlying physiological problems
While emotions often play a role in food addiction, physical issues can also contribute. It’s a good idea to start with the physical causes, as treating deficiencies is a good idea for overall health anyway.
Eat a Nutrient-Rich Diet
If the cravings are caused by a nutrient deficiency or a poor diet, making sure to eat plenty of micronutrients (found in fruits, vegetables, and grass-fed and pasture-fed animal products) is a great way to go. to remedy any deficiencies and improve overall health. If this is not the main cause for you, you still benefit from a healthier diet!
Some medications cause overeating and weight gain, which can trigger the emotional eating cycle. It is often possible to switch to another medicine or to a lower dose to reduce or eliminate this side effect. Talk to your prescriber.
Our bodies are biologically programmed to crave sugary, salty, and fatty foods while we’re stressed (these are high-energy foods after all). But with the chronic stress most of us face, this survival response can do more harm than good. Reduce stress by making personal care a priority every day. Take time for an exercise class, an hour in the house alone, or anything that will help you relax and regain your balance.
Stress is linked to hormones in the body (stress triggers the release of cortisol), but other hormonal imbalances can have similar effects. Restoring hormonal balance is important for overall health and can also help relieve cravings and emotional eating. Here are some tips for balance hormones naturally:
- Eat lots of healthy fats – The body is not designed to eat artificial and highly processed fats. Use healthy fats like olive oil (unheated), coconut oil, olives, avocados, and grazed and grass-fed animal products.
- Cut down on caffeine and environmental toxins – These can cause endocrine problems.
- Have had plenty of sleep! – While I sleep the body, I work hard to flush out toxins, repair cells, and create hormones.
- Exercise the Right Way – For those who suffer from a hormonal imbalance, it is best to avoid strenuous workouts at first, until the hormones are balanced again. Gentle exercise like walking and swimming is good.
- Focus on Leptin Balance – Leptin is the main hormone, so when it’s out of balance everything else is too.
After following these tips, you may want to continue with a hormone balancing diet.
Changing the mindset around food
Many experts talk about food addiction and emotional eating in terms of their relationship to food. If we overeat or have emotional eating issues, we have a bad relationship with food. But Robb Wolf has a different perspective. In a podcast episode, he explains that food addiction is not about food. Wolf explains that focusing on the food aspect (and trying to control it) is not the answer.
Instead, we should understand the underlying emotional reasons for using food addictively. This way people can stop focusing on food and start healing the underlying emotional triggers instead.
Understanding the body
Many people feel deeply guilty about overeating emotionally, overeating, or being unable to lose weight. But Wolf explains that we need to reframe this. When we examine human history and biology, we can understand that the body was designed to search for food and eat when it is found (in case there is no other chance).
In our modern society, this becomes problematic because food is readily available (especially very appetizing sweet, fatty and salty foods). But if you think about it, those who are overweight are better suited for survival. They are able to keep calories on their bodies during times of starvation. Knowing this, we can begin to recognize that our bodies are actually great and are doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing. The solution is more to work with the body rather than just focusing on the restrictions. or shame.
Obviously, healthy eating is important for overall health, but it is also very important for dealing with cravings and emotional eating. As mentioned earlier, a nutrient-dense diet is a good place to start. Choose real foods from healthy sources like high quality protein, lots of vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats. A wide variety of whole foods is the best way to get a good variety of nutrients. Stay away from highly processed, nutrient-poor foods.
After starting a real diet, you may need to make adjustments based on our own bio-individuality. For example, some people cannot tolerate dairy products, legumes or certain types of fruits, etc. Carbohydrates are a component of the diet that people vary widely.
As Robb Wolf explained in the podcast episode above, a low-carb diet or a ketogenic diet can be amazing for some people and disastrous for others. This is the place where we need to research and work to figure out how many carbs and what type of carbs make us feel better.
Nutritionist Stéphanie Dodier in another podcast episode explains that carbohydrates play a role in emotional eating, but that she recommends different amounts of carbohydrate for different people. Dodier recommends knowing your body intimately to see how much carbohydrate is best for you. Experts generally advise starting with the amount of carbohydrates in a paleo diet and cutting them down if necessary.
Make (healthy) pleasure part of your daily life
Experts agree that there is nothing wrong with using food for pleasure every now and then, as long as it is not your only pleasure. If you feel like you’re using food exclusively to feel better, it might be time to look for other enjoyable activities. Take a walk, meditate, spend time with friends, meeting with your spouse, spending time alone, and watching your favorite movie are all things you can include in your day and week for “me time”.
Speak with a trusted counselor or therapist
As Robb Wolf explains in the podcast episode above, focusing on the food aspect, when the underlying emotional reason for the addiction is not addressed, is unnecessary. He suggests speaking with a therapist to get to the bottom of the emotional connection with food.
Tapping of emotional freedom
Brittany Watkins, expert in emotional freedom tapping (EFT), explains in a podcast episode that much of what happens with emotional eating happens in the subconscious. EFT can help reach and heal these underlying emotional triggers. Watkins explains that EFT, while it might sound a little odd, is rooted in science.
We store our memories in the seahorse (which looks a bit like a sponge). We use these memories to make quick decisions about new events in our lives. For example, if as a child you fell and grazed your knee when you rode a bicycle too fast, you might later pick up that memory and think “I should slow down”. If you were bitten by a dog as a child, you may continue to recall this memory whenever dogs are present and develop a fear of them.
EFT accesses these memories and helps make them less intense. It has helped me tremendously and I highly recommend To try !
Put it all together
It can seem a little overwhelming to deal with emotional eating habits, but it doesn’t have to be. You can make small changes to your diet and lifestyle to suit your abilities and seek help from a therapist. or other professionals.
Do you recognize patterns of emotional eating in your life? How do you deal with food cravings?