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Pizza and a side of emotions

It’s been a long week – three essays due the same day, two midterms back-to-back and you haven’t even begun to start your final project.

Needless to say, it’s been a long week.

There is nothing better than having a side of cake with your homework right?

Emotional eating is common among people who are stressed or anxious. Teens Health says, “Emotional eating is when people use food as a way to deal with feelings instead of to satisfy hunger.” These feelings don’t have to be negative, but can be prompted by positive feelings as well.

It can be triggered by foods bringing good memories, such as your grandmother’s cookies, or it can be used to distract yourself from what you are feeling.

Emotional eating can also be learned.

When children get a cookie when they are upset or get a piece of cake for doing a good job, they begin to notice that these types of food are associated with heightened emotions.

When you feel stressed or are emotional, your body produces cortisol, which is your body’s stress hormone. Cortisol makes your body crave fatty foods, carbohydrates and sugar. Once you eat food high in these substances chemical changes occur boosting neurotransmitters that are responsible for making you feel good.

One problem associated with emotional eating is once you finish eating, your feelings will still be present “and you often may feel worse about eating the amount or type of food you did,” says Teens Health.

Knowing the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger can help ease eater’s remorse and help you deal with your feelings in a positive way.

Physical hunger is gradual and can be postponed, is satisfied with many types of food and eating is usually stopped once you are full, where emotional hunger is often sudden and urgent, cravings are specific to certain types of food and overeating is common.

Here are some steps that can help you beat emotional eating:

The three Bs of emotional eating:

1. Becoming aware that you eating due to stress – emotional eating is often unconscious so you may not realize that you are doing it.

2. Before you eat, ask yourself if you are actually hungry – stomach growling, low energy, etc. Knowing the difference between physical and emotional hunger helps in this step.

3. Begin to think of other ways to comfort your emotions, such as exercise, journaling or talking to a friend. Finding ways to replace eating with other activities is a great way to break the habit.

Emotional eating is not always a bad thing. It becomes bad when you start hiding your emotions with food rather than eating a cookie for your sugar craving.
So, before eating, ask yourself: Am I hungry?

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