emotional eating…or no?

7 Apr

There is a lot going on this week at CSM “headquarters.”  I am entering my most busy time at work.  There is a lot of testing coming up that I need to make sure my kids are prepared for, and a lot of it is essay testing which means I’ll probably have a red pen in hand for much of the next month and a half.

Anyhow, while avoiding lesson planning tonight, I stumbled onto this article in which Courtney Pool talks about emotional eating being tied to what is being eaten.

She states “Fueling our bodies with processed food and animal products only makes for harder work in healing emotional eating. Our bodies as well as our brains get physically addicted to processed sugar, flour, salt and grains, cooked, low quality oils, chemical food additives and colorings, and even naturally occurring substances such as casein in dairy products. We then have to deal with not only our emotional addiction to food, but also our physical addiction.

She goes on to say “When we get to a place where the foods we reach for emotionally are rarely or never processed ones, then we can clearly arrive at the truth of our emotional attachment to food. Perhaps now you still eat emotionally, but you reach for raw, organic nuts or dates, or maybe raw vegan desserts. Emotionally, enough of most any food will satisfy what we’re using it for, so even a great deal of blueberries or a pile of seaweed can do the trick. However, we can often conclude that we are not likely reaching for a pile of blueberries or even a bag of nuts because we are physically addicted. Now that the physical addiction is gone, we can face the issue appropriately, and begin to explore why we eat when we are not hungry.”

With all of the stress that is going on at my job lately, I’ve been having an even harder time with emotional eating.   I often find that as my stress/anxiety  levels begin to rise, my automatic response is to reach for food.  But, not just any food…food that is not clean.  Food that is laden with sugar/salt or is high in carbs.

A little experiment that I conducted recently showed that if the only food available to me during these times is healthy, clean food such as fruit or vegetables, then I literally won’t eat it.  It apparently doesn’t ease the anxiety in my mind and therefore has no appeal whatsoever.  I will, instead, find myself continuing on with the tasks at hand and dealing with the anxiety in the rawest way possible.  Meaning – I sort through the emotions (why am I feeling this way?), combat lies with truth and make a gameplan to deal with whatever is stressing me out.  However, if unhealthy foods are in the least bit accessible, I have a hard time thinking rationally enough to avoid them.

So, I found the above article quite interesting in that I agree with the point that part of the catalyst for emotional eating has to do with a physical addiction.  Yet, I am having trouble reconciling with the idea that we can turn to emotionally eating on healthy/clean foods as a stepping stone to defeating those emotional eating demons for good. That just doesn’t work for me.

Also, I am still exploring the following question: if clean foods don’t suffice in easing my anxiety, what is the root of my problem?  Is it an purely addiction to certain elements (casein, sugar, oil etc) of unclean foods and I just happen to reach for them when I’m feeling overwhelmed/stressed?  Can my  “episodes” even be classified as emotional eating?

When you find yourself reaching for food because of a mental/emotional issue, does clean food do the trick?  Or do you feel you have to go for sugary foods, etc.  What do you think of this idea that forcing ourselves to eat clean food when eating for emotional reasons is a huge step in beating emotional eating altogether?  Also, how might we get to a place where we reach for healthy food when feeling the need to “feed” our emotions?  Do you feel this is possible?

And, finally, because no post is complete without a picture and by request from a couple of CSM readers, here is more beautiful, albeit random, Thailand scenery.

This little bungalow served as Jon and I’s sleeping quarters for a week.

Close up:)

View out the tiny little window.

Our little “guest” that we came home to one night.


5 Responses to “emotional eating…or no?”

  1. Heather (Where's the Beach) April 7, 2010 at 6:18 pm #

    Gorgeous pics by the way. Thankfully, I am really not an emotional eater. That being said, an apple is not always going to substitute an oatmeal cookie. I’d be crazy to say it would. However, I have found that as long as I am eating a very balanced diet, then I tend to have fewer bad cravings. For example, I started adding a small smear of almond butter (for the protein and healthy fats) to a whole-grain rice cake (no corn syrups, etc) and that is all I need. No seconds and thirds.

  2. sophia April 7, 2010 at 9:54 pm #

    Thailand is beautiful…I never really appreciated when I visited it, I was too young. Sigh.
    Emotional eating…what a fascinating post. I always think that emotional eating is just a physical way of “filling” oneself up…instead of dealing with the real mental and spiritual issue. Doesn’t matter whether it’s “clean” or not…
    Though it hurts at first, the key thing to dealing with emotional eating is well, dealing with the raw emotions, as you said.

  3. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) April 8, 2010 at 12:16 am #

    what beautiful pics, i just love things like this. not every day you go to a blog and get a lovely surprise like this.

    glad you dont count protein g’s, either. thx for your comment tonite 🙂

  4. cristen April 8, 2010 at 3:33 pm #

    i would contend that for the most part, healthy foods do not pacify me as much as unhealthy ones when i’m eating out of emotion. however, i do think they help a little. i like your process of working thru your anxiety by the way.

    after seeing these photos again, i have to admit that i’m feeling a lil bitter that i didn’t get to stay in the cute lil bungalow on the side of the cliff….=( i should have at least went down and had my photo taken by it!


  1. Tweets that mention emotional eating…or no?|ChiaSeedMe | My Healthy Living Blog with a Sprinkle of Chia Seeds -- Topsy.com - April 7, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Heather Iacobacci, Candice McCoy. Candice McCoy said: check out today's post about emotional eating…I want to hear YOUR thoughts! + pics from our year in Thailand:) http://bit.ly/cPuA6r […]

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