Case Study #02 The Emo­tional Eater

Men's Health (UK) - - 7 New Ways To Lose 5kg -

You’re com­pelled to eat by fac­tors that have lit­tle to do with food. The brakes might fail af­ter a bad day at work, or a fight with your part­ner, or be­cause a so­cial me­dia post got your hack­les up. “Some of us can han­dle our emo­tions most of the time, and then a neg­a­tive event oc­curs and we go off,” says Tim Church, pro­fes­sor of pre­ven­tive medicine at Pen­ning­ton. “We turn to drink­ing, smok­ing, eat­ing, or a com­bi­na­tion.” Al­co­hol re­duces your im­pulse con­trol, so turn­ing to the hard stuff at the end of a tough day can have cu­mu­la­tive neg­a­tive ef­fects on your waist­line.

The Pre­scrip­tion “Know your emo­tional trig­gers,” Church says. If they’re not ob­vi­ous, he ad­vises: “The next time you go on a ben­der and eat a fam­ily-sized box of nuggets, sit down af­ter­wards and write down what’s dis­tress­ing you, as specif­i­cally as pos­si­ble. Un­peel the onion.”

John Old­ham, an IT worker from Kansas, lost 105kg on the pro­gramme that Church de­signed. By ex­am­in­ing his trig­gers, he con­cluded that his dif­fi­cult re­la­tion­ship with his ex-wife was be­hind much of his com­pul­sive eat­ing. “So, I learned to stop giv­ing her con­trol,” he says. Talk­ing ther­a­pies can help you be­come aware of the root cause, mak­ing your be­hav­iour feel less like a fore­gone con­clu­sion.

You can also train your­self to put time be­tween the dis­tress­ing event and your re­ac­tion to it. “When you’re head­ing for the fridge, ask your­self: can I wait 10 min­utes be­fore I do this?” Church says. Then, find some­thing to do that ac­ti­vates those same re­ward path­ways, but doesn’t in­volve food. Ex­er­cise is the ob­vi­ous choice, but even lis­ten­ing to a favourite al­bum re­leases dopamine, the brain’s plea­sure chem­i­cal.

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