Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Triggers to Overeating - Part 1

Nowadays with such an abundance of food around and so many choices to make, many of us are influenced into what we eat for many reasons other than hunger.  How many of us rush over to the biscuit tin, grab a packet of crisps, sweets or tub of ice-cream when faced with emotional difficulties?  Are we really feeding our hunger or are we feeding our feelings instead?  Unfortunately the choices that we make when we eat when not hungry are notoriously poor.  We tend to go for high energy, fat and sugary choices which offer immediate satisfaction, closely followed by feelings of regret and guilt.
Numerous studies show that appetite can be stimulated by feelings of worry, frustration, anger, hostility, guilt and poor self esteem.  Eating is a way to suppress these negative feelings. 

Associating eating and drinking with stress reduction is learnt from an early age and reinforced through the generations.  Take for example when a baby is hungry, blood sugar levels fall, they cry and scream which is stressful for both parent and baby.  So we tend to the baby by feeding it, instantly stress levels drop and everyone feels better.  Children quickly learn that eating alleviates stress.  

Tracking eating triggers is the first step to understanding why people eat when they are not hungry.  You firstly need to recognise how feelings are triggering your eating behaviour.
Look at the below table and see how many excuses you have used for eating when not hungry.

The reward syndrome

When you have had a really bad day, been shopping, juggled work, kids, housework and fitted everything in.  You feel you deserve a reward.

The last supper syndrome
I am going to start a diet tomorrow, and will never eat cake and biscuits again!

The closet syndrome

Nobody’s looking.  They know I’m on a diet, but if they don’t see me, they won’t know.

Because it’s there syndrome
I am in the kitchen preparing a meal and the biscuit lid is off and because I’m there, I eat them.  I can’t let food go to waste.

I’m fed up syndrome
I’m bored, lonely, cross, angry with myself or someone else, and I’m going to eat something naughty.  “I’m bored lets eat!”

The slippery slope syndrome
I missed breakfast; I ate far too much at lunch time so a little more won’t make any difference

Food as my best friend.  Being depressed can lead to weight gain and being overweight can lead to being depressed, creating a frustrating vicious circle.

Its time to eat.

Crowd pleasing
Going along with others.

Paired event eating
Movies = Popcorn, Shopping = Fast food restaurant

For others
I baked you a special treat.

Special occasions
Lets party!

In part 2 we'll look at taking control of emotional overeating.  Once you've found the triggers to overeating you will be more able to deal with your particular situation and become happier with food on your side.

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