How you feel in any given moment depends upon how you are managing your emotional states. It is human nature to want to feel good.
That is one reason why so many people use food to manage emotions, and change the way they feel.
When something happens that triggers a negative emotion, then psychological eating comes into play. If you aren’t hungry, and you ask yourself why you are eating, most often the answer will be “to change the way I feel.”The problem is that tub of ice cream only gives you a temporary fix, and does not do anything to address the real issue. It only makes you feel more frustrated later on.
And it’s not even the food that you actually want. It is the feeling that you think eating the food will give you.
The psychology of eating really comes into play when you think about conditioned responses. Most of what you do is a result of past experiences. When you do something in response to a given situation, you are creating a pattern. Do that same behavior over and over and you have yourself a habit.
The more you repeat the pattern, the more the psychological eating occurs. The association between food and feelings starts early in life. When you were unhappy as a child, someone offered food as a way to feel better.
If food = love, then you choose comfort eating every time. Those associations become stronger and stronger over time, and can create food cravings for years afterwards.
Once it becomes part of your behavior “it’s just what you do,” it can feel unnatural to NOT do the behavior. It can feel out of your comfort zone if you aren’t eating, for example, in response to stress.
We have become conditioned to feel a certain way when stressful events occur. We reach for certain foods that we are conditioned to do to try to change our feeling. If we try to change the habit, it can feel like we are going against our own desires.
Even the thought of not having it can create a feeling of deprivation, and make us want it even more. Once you change the food-feeling connection, you weaken the association. Changing the association makes it easier to change your behavior. Until you do, you are still trying to use willpower to go against your natural desire, creating a constant struggle.
What’s the answer?
It helps to manage your moods, stress and psychological eating as pro-actively as possible. Learn about your emotions and what triggers them.
Negative emotions are not bad. They are often giving you a message that something is out of balance in your life.They can also give you a clue as to what is stressing you, and what needs to change. If you feel angry with another person, for instance, it can be a clue that you are in a power struggle.
Negative emotions and stress are valuable signals that something needs adjusting. Ignoring them only makes it worse…
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