No matter age, weight or gender, emotional overeating is an equal opportunity offender affecting millions of us. But is it an eating disorder?
“Emotional eating is not in itself a specific eating disorder, though emotional eating occurs in eating disorders,” says Dr. Jennifer Taitz, co-author of “End Emotional Eating: Using Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills to Cope with Difficult Emotions and Develop a Healthy Relationship to Food” (New Harbinger Publications, 2012).
“Eating may serve as a temporary distraction, facilitating moving away from boredom, sadness, anxiety or other distressing feelings,” Taitz says. “In addition to helping you briefly escape an uncomfortable emotion, eating may also add a positive emotion. So its doubly rewarding- takes away a negative and adds a positive.”
Next time you feel the urge coming on, Taitz recommends following emotional-eating rules:
1. Complex Carbohydrates
Eat 100 percent whole grain products that will provide you with lasting energy to keep your mood upbeat, such as 100 percent whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, oatmeal, black beans and even fruit.
Why: Stay away from refined (packaged), carbohydrates. They are digested quickly and lead to a dip in energy and a rebound in hunger a few hours later.
2. Consume Protein Regularly
Healthy lean protein such as seafood, tofu, quinoa and low fat dairy.
Why: The addition of protein to your meal can help slow the absorption of the carbohydrates. Dopamine and norepinephrine are released after eating protein, too. These chemicals in the brain leave your body feeling happy and alert.
3. Vitamin B12 foods
Whole grain breakfast cereals (enriched), lean beef, low fat dairy, eggs, shellfish and lentils.
Why: Studies have shown that B12 may play a significant role in serotonin production. Studies also have shown that low B12 levels can be associated with depression, so make sure to eat your enriched grains.
4. Stay Hydrated
Water infused with lemon, limes, strawberries and even lavender can be a nice change of pace. Green Tea and decaffeinated coffee are also a great choice. Stay away from sugary liquids that will only provide you with a short boost. They will be followed by an unwanted crash.
Why: When you are dehydrated you are more likely to feel fatigued and therefore in a bad mood.