4 Questions to Ask Yourself as to Why You Overeat

4 Questions to Ask Yourself as to Why You Overeat

by JENNA BIRCH

4 Questions to Ask Yourself About Why You Overeat

To escape emotional eating, uncover what’s behind it. Photo Credit: ISAPA.ORG

In this article, consider these 4 questions to ask yourself as to why you overeat. If you scarf down Oreos after a hard day at work or polish off a pint of ice cream any time you fight with your significant other, the problem isn’t with your willpower — it’s with your coping skills. Food can become that go-to distraction you use to avoid tackling your biggest stressors head-on, experts say. In this way, overindulging can be a way to dodge the pressing problems in your life.

Emotional eating isn’t a new concept, but we don’t always look beyond its soothing effects. Sometimes, it turns into a habitual, maladaptive coping strategy to deal with issues like loneliness, boredom or depression. In this way, emotional eating can be similar to addictions, explains Barbara Spanjers, MS, a therapist and wellness coach based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The solution, however, isn’t to separate food from feelings completely. “All eating has an emotional component, and we don’t want to remove that. It’s nurturing. It’s attached to memories. It encourages social connection,” Spanjers says. “The problem arises when you’re using eating or food for coping — if you’re in that pan of brownies instead of talking to your boss about what went down at work today.”

Once the brownies are gone, however, your problems will still be around. Over time, this habit of indulging in the moment can block you from achieving long-term goals, such as weight loss.

4 Questions to Ask Yourself About Why You Overeat

Sweets are soothing, but they don’t make problems go away (unfortunately). Photo Credit: Bojon Gourmet

According to Spanjers, people who lack assertiveness can often get swept up in this particular brand of emotional eating to cope with the anxiety they feel. “We often don’t want to want to take a moment and figure out what is wrong with us, but we should,” she says. “Learn to say no to unimportant things. Learn to deal with loneliness by seeking out people, not food.”

If you’re more tempted to dive into a bag of chocolate-covered pretzels instead of calling your partner to sort out your latest argument, ask yourself these five questions. Your answers will help you better understand your emotional eating habits — and learn how to break them.

1. Is This Physical Hunger or Emotional Hunger?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between emotionally-driven and physically-driven forms of hunger, says Spanjers, but there is a telltale clue: “Physical hunger tends to come on gradually, whereas emotional hunger tends to hit you fast,” she says.

If you suddenly notice an urge to eat (especially if you’ve just finished a meal), pause and ask yourself if you’re responding to a stress trigger like an impending deadline or disagreement with your best friend. Deal with that to feel better, says Spanjers.

2. What’s Really Causing That Rumbling in My Gut?

We often clue into our hunger because we feel it in our gut. But stress and nervousness can also make the stomach flutter. Spanjers explains that disordered eating habits and food anxieties have caused many people to feel cut off from the body’s messaging system, spurring a slew of misinterpreted signals.

“If you’re unsure if you’re experiencing physical hunger pangs, when did you start feeling it?” Spanjers asks. “Check to see if you have a reason to be anxious.” If you do, relieve the anxiety by tackling the situation or taking a few deep breaths — not by grabbing a snack.

3. What Feeling Am I Trying to Get From Food?

Even if you’ve dealt with the problem that caused your stress, you might still feel the need to soothe yourself. According to Susan Albers, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic and author of “Eat Q: Unlock the Weight-Loss Power of Emotional Intelligence,” we are conditioned to reach for food to feel good. “It’s in so many ads. Think of chocolate, associated with words like ‘bliss,’” Albers explains.

“If you’re consistently comfort-eating, try making swaps,” Albers says. “Come up with activities that will match the feeling the food would create for you.” Say you feel calm when you eat chocolate cake and when you pet your dog: Only one is a healthy coping mechanism.

4 Questions to Ask Yourself About Why You Overeat

Tough deadline at work? Snuggle your pup instead of reaching for snacks. Photo Credit: Getty Images

4. What Are Some Practical Ways Can I De-Stress?

A lot of stress-management advice is unrealistic for the times you need relief the most. “Take a vacation, take a bubble bath. If the kids are screaming, grabbing the M&Ms is easy. Taking a bubble bath is hard,” Spanjers says.

She and Albers both suggest making a list of ways you can deal with your biggest stressors in the moment. “Come up with five things you find relaxing, five places you find calming, and five sayings that improve your mood,” Albers advises. “This could be yoga or putting on pajamas, going to a park or your quiet bedroom, or a mantra or prayer.” Write them down on a piece of paper so you’ll commit them to memory.

Remember, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a good meal or savoring a delicious dessert. “Food is fabulous,” Spanjers insists. “If you want a glass of wine to unwind with your girlfriends on a Friday, that’s great. But if you need it to get out of your house, that’s not good. It’s when it comes at the expense of dealing with real problems that food becomes a problem.”

What Do YOU Think?

When are you most likely to soothe yourself with food? What are your strategies for avoiding emotional eating? Share your suggestions for healthy ways to de-stress in the comments.

Artificial Sweeteners Cause Cancer

By Dr. Mercola

If you’ve added the artificial sweetener sucralose (brand name Splenda) to your diet because you think it’s a healthy alternative to sugar, you’re being dangerously misled. Research from the Ramazzini Institute has linked the popular sugar alternative to cancer, specifically leukemia.

The findings were first presented at a London cancer conference in 2012 and prompted The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) to downgrade Splenda from its “safe” category to one of “caution.”

Now that the study has been published in a peer-reviewed journal, CSPI has again downgraded Splenda, this time from “caution” to “avoid.”

Splenda May Increase Risk of Cancer in Mice

The researchers fed mice Splenda beginning prenatally and continuing for their entire lifespan. The mice were fed varying concentrations of the artificial sweetener: 0 ppm (parts per million), 500 ppm, 2,000 ppm, 8,000 ppm or 16,000 ppm.

A significant increase in cancerous tumors was seen among male mice, and the risk increased along with the dose. The risk of leukemia in male mice also significantly increased, especially at Splenda doses of 2,000 to 16,000 ppm.1 According to the study:

“These findings do not support previous data that sucralose is biologically inert. More studies are necessary to show the safety of sucralose, including new and more adequate carcinogenic bioassay on rats.

Considering that millions of people are likely exposed, follow-up studies are urgent.”

CSPI explained that the only other long-term feeding studies conducted on Splenda were conducted by its manufacturer. The new study, they said:2

” … [I]s more powerful than the industry-funded studies, which tested fewer animals, started exposing the animals beginning at adolescence as opposed to in utero, and ended earlier in the animals’ lives.”

After more than a decade, CSPI has finally gotten it right about Splenda in recommending that consumers avoid it. For the record, however, CSPI is generally an organization whose guidelines need to be taken with a grain of salt.

For instance, while recommending that people avoid artificial sweeteners like sucralose, aspartame and saccharin, they still consider drinking diet soda to be safer than drinking regular soda.

Splenda Is Found in 4,500 Products

If you’d like to heed the warnings and cut Splenda from your diet, be aware that it’s found in more than 4,500 products. Splenda has been smartly marketed, and it’s most known for its tag line “made from sugar so it tastes like sugar.”

It’s earned a reputation for being somehow safer than other artificial sweeteners like aspartame, which is why PepsiCo ditched aspartame in its Diet Pepsi in 2015 and replaced it with none other than Splenda.

Splenda became one of the top-selling artificial sweeteners in the U.S. in a very short period of time. Between 2000 and 2004, the percentage of U.S. households using Splenda products jumped from 3 percent to 20 percent. By 2012, Splenda generated sales of nearly $288 million.3

But make no mistake; Splenda is far from natural, even though it technically does start off as a sugar molecule. In the five-step patented process of making sucralose, three chlorine molecules are added to a sucrose or sugar molecule.

A sucrose molecule is a disaccharide that contains two single sugars bound together: glucose and fructose. The chemical process to make sucralose alters the chemical composition of the sugar so much that it is somehow converted to a fructose-galactose molecule.

This type of sugar molecule does not occur in nature, and therefore your body does not possess the ability to properly metabolize it. As a result of this “unique” biochemical make-up, the manufacturers claim that Splenda is not digested or metabolized by your body, making it have zero calories.

Splenda is supposed to pass right through you. However, the research (which is primarily extrapolated from animal studies) indicates that about 15 percent of sucralose is, in fact, absorbed into your digestive system and ultimately stored in your body.

Splenda May Decimate Your Gut Bacteria

Everything You Need to Know About Eggs

Egg Nutrition Facts

In this infographic “Everything You Need to Know About Eggs,” you’ll discover the nutritional wealth that eggs offer and why you should be stringent in choosing safe, high-quality eggs. Use the embed code to share it on your website.

<img src="http://media.mercola.com/assets/images/infographic/eggs-nutrition-facts.jpg" alt="Egg Nutrition Facts" border="0" style="max-width:100%; min-width:300px; margin: 0 auto 20px auto; display:block;"><p style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin:0 auto; text-align:center;">In this infographic "<a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/egg-nutrition-facts.htm">Everything You Need to Know About Eggs</a>," you'll discover the nutritional wealth that eggs offer and why you should be stringent in choosing safe, high-quality eggs. Use the embed code to share it on your website.</p>