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janet-jackson-weight-loss2Janet Jackson Emotional Eating

A new ad showing a significantly slimmer Janet Jackson has made its way about the Internet.  And Nutrisystem is being credited as the reason.  Janet Jackson, not immune to weight challenges, has been honest about her struggles and yo-yo dieting over the years.  Janet Jackson has been reported as declaring that she is an emotional eater.  Celebrities are not immune from the emotional eating that plagues some of us.  Yet, they are always forced into the spotlight whether too fat or too thin.  If you can get past the fact that they are millionaires, you can realize that emotional eating is not just for those of us "nobody's."  Emotional eating is real.  Emotional eating can be overcome.  And we can give you tips on how to conquer emotional eating.

Eating Disorders

Oftentimes, eating disorders stem from childhood, whether from verbal or sexual abuse, or even just experiencing harder times.  Eating disorders and problems can even emerge from the feeling of needing to be in control in an atmosphere of complete chaos.  From the time we were born, food was one of the first ways we experienced trust and security.  So, it stands to reason that food can become that "drug" to comfort us in times of stress or sorrow.  And let's face it:  we live in an imperfect world.  So there is no room for shame if we have an eating disorder or problem, whether it is excessive or anorexic in nature.

Understanding Eating Disorders

Eating disorders know no age or race, although they are usually of an extreme nature, whether it be overeating, under-eating or binging and purging.  And it seems that women, because we are more recognized for attractiveness, suffer from emotional eating most of all.

Binge or "Emotional" Eating:  Overeating in this realm occurs as a result of anxiety, depression, powerlessness and the need for comfort.  Remember Bridget Jone's Diary when she ate ice cream to clear away her sadness?  As said earlier, food was our earliest form of security and fulfillment, so choosing food to deal with stress is a logical, mental, survival technique.  Yet the habit can get us into big trouble, sending us literally off the scales in weight, making us more depressed and consequently damaging our health.

Tips for Overcoming Emotional Eating

Situations and emotions that trigger us to eat fall into five main categories.

  • Social. This aspect can fit into many categories, including, feeling inadequate at the table, wanting to be accepted, or being encouraged to eat beyond what we want because of pressure.

  • Emotional. Using food as a way to stave off boredom, loneliness, anger, anxiety and sadness.

  • Situational. Using food as an activity, whether it be a television show, a restaurant special or a party.

  • Thoughts. Beating yourself up about overeating seems to fuel the future for continued unhealthful eating.

  • Physiological. Not regulating your food intake, resulting in extreme hunger and then validating the binge.

It is helpful that based on the above, a food diary would be beneficial.  Write down what you eat every day and how you are feeling.  Then re-read and meditate on those thoughts.  Think about ways to change your behavior.  Don't beat yourself up; it doesn't happen overnight.  Consider enlisting a confidant to hold you accountable. 

How Do I Stop Emotional Eating?

Figure out what makes you want to dig into that bag of chips or visit the nearest fast food place.  There have to be "triggers" that get us thinking that we need comfort in the way of food.  But identifying stumbling blocks is just part of eliminating emotional eating.  There needs to be a plan of alternative behaviors.  Some good ones are as follows:
  • Listening to music or reading a good book.

  • Picking your best choice of exercise and doing it.  Note:  it doesn't have to kill you; even a walk out in the fresh air can relieve stress and keep you from emotional eating.

  • Relax, whether through meditation, prayer or yoga.  Deep breathing is a plus.  Focus on a time when you felt safe and happy as you take those cleansing breaths.  And know that you will feel that way again.

  • Distract yourself with games, whether by yourself or with friends.

  • Dial up a friend and unload.  Let them know your goal if you are comfortable and talk away.

  • Give yourself household chores.  Play great music while you do them or turn on a favorite tv program or movie.

  • Do anything that helps you keep from eating to fulfill your boredom, sadness or loneliness.

You can overcome emotional eating.  You can do it!  Consider hiring a counselor or life coach if you feel like you need more insight.  The bottom line is that you are not alone.  And you will be okay.  Go for it!

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