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Emotional eating: that's why we crave
Emotional eating: that's why we crave

Feeling hungry? Most of them hardly know that anymore. People eat according to their cravings - and emotions play a major role in this. How to get back to "normal" eating habits.

Emotional eating: that's why we crave!
Emotional eating: that's why we crave!

If you read the term "emotional eating" somewhere, a classic scene pops up in your head: sitting on the sofa, chocolate bars and biscuits full of greed, inexorably shoveling into yourself, remote-controlled and unsteady. Is that really "emotional eating"? Where do cravings come from and the urge to eat and how do you get rid of them? The term "emotional eating" means that food intake is not triggered by physical hunger signals, but by gusto. In a society where weight loss is as glorified as the Queen is in England, this is Eating without hunger is a sin, who is punished with mental lashes. But what if emotions are necessary to eat?

Emotions have stored "exercise programs". Joy and lust lead people to turn to new things, people or food. The willingness to eat increases. On the other hand, sadness or anger causes us to withdraw. Without emotion (here: lust) people don't eat anything. Why even if food does not offer pleasure or pleasure? In the technical jargon this will be Anorexia or loss of appetite called. Affected people poke around in their food and often only ingest the bare essentials.

Emotional eating is normal and even necessary and has nothing to do with an urge to eat per se. It is not the emotional eating that bothers so many of us, but rather the urge to eat or the cravings.

Restrained eaters

And there are various reasons for this that we have to distinguish from one another. Cravings due to insufficient intake of nutrients affect those who simply eat too little. Some are the so busy all day that they don't come to eat. In the evenings, however, when the stress and control of the frontal lobe subside, the refrigerator breaks down.

Others are restrained eaters who want to lose weight and consciously reduce their calorie intake. The consequence of this is Cravings for the forbidden or avoided, which sooner or later affects around 80 to 90 percent of dieters. In psychology this effect is called reactance. The thoughts begin to revolve around the forbidden. If you don't want to think of a pink elephant, it will be there in no time. In the long term, after three diets, the weight is often higher than the initial weight before the "start of weight loss". Studies show that consistently! Cheat days are something of one Invention of the diet industry, to treat people to these binge eating and to keep them "happy".

Another reason for the urge to eat is learned habits. Many of us are so busy in our job that there is hardly any time during the working week to meet friends or do something. We're too done or too k. o., and the highlight of the day is dinner. Or the regular consumption of the Austrian menu combination starter, main course, dessert, which expresses itself in a strong desire for dessert as soon as the last bite of the main course has disappeared in your mouth. Or the taste for popcorn, which suddenly appears as soon as you enter the cinema.

They are trained if-then patterns based on emotional connections. Once you have found trained patterns, the point is to resolve the if-then. Take in the gusto aware of these situations, and ask yourself the question: do I really want popcorn or is this my pattern? If it is a pattern, increase the time between the if and the then. If you really feel like it, give yourself permission to eat. Do not work with prohibitions like: I am not allowed to eat the dessert. This leads to the cravings described above.

The inner striving for perfection

Finally, there is the emotion-regulating eating behavior. Affected people use food to help themselves relax and feel better. The mild form is eating ice cream for lovesickness. The extreme form is called binge eating disorder. This eating behavior helps those affected by the regulate your own emotions. In many cases this happens unconsciously. This eating behavior is often triggered by high pressure, hurt or sadness.

Many of those affected have little time for themselves in everyday life, have an inner striving for perfection in some or many areas of life All-or-nothing thinking or I-have-to-give-120-percent-thoughts. Inside there is so much pressure and the urge to have to function that the emotion-regulating eating behavior is like an explosion, with which the pressure subsides. This form of the urge to eat has the function of balancing or relieving tension. And it is precisely this function that needs to be replaced.

Learning different strategies to relieve tension and recover (such as exercise, yoga, meditation) as well as setting boundaries and saying no or building self-care are among the things that need to be learned. This means that the binge eating will automatically decrease over time. Quick solutions, such as suppressing an urge to eat, are not advisable.

In most cases, this will result in a rebound. Like a boomerang, the urge to eat comes back after a short time - stronger and harder. So it's not a question of what can be done to get rid of the urge to eat, but rather the question: What can I do to take care of myself? In many cases it is advisable to get support from an expert (psychologist) who specializes in such behavior.

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