Understanding Emotional Eating

July 13, 2017 at 9:30 am | Posted in Health | Leave a comment
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Have you ever come home after a stressful day and ended up eating a pint of Chunky Monkey?  Or maybe you’ve mindlessly eaten a bag of chips at your desk willing the workday to go by faster?  Both of these examples are types of emotional eating:  eating for reasons other than hunger.  While eating when you’re  hungry addresses a physical need (providing the body with food in order to function), emotional eating uses food to satisfy an emotional need.  Some common causes of emotional eating include stress, anger, boredom and loneliness.    Emotional eating can affect your diabetes management because often the foods eaten are high in sugar, fat and calories.  This can raise blood sugar and make it hard to lose weight.

So how can you tell if you’re eating because you’re hungry or because you’re stressed out?  Physical hunger comes on gradually and can be satisfied by any type of food. You stop feeling hunger when you have eaten enough to feel full.  Emotional “hunger” comes on very quickly and is focused on a strong craving for a particular food, taste or texture. Emotional eating is also often mindless and can lead to feelings of guilt afterward.

Now that we know the difference between physical and emotional hunger, here are some strategies to help manage emotional eating:

  • Know your triggers – If you know what it is that causes you to eat (e.g. boredom, stress), you can take action to prevent mindless munching before it begins. Use another activity to distract yourself from wanting to eat. Try going for a walk, talking to a friend or loved one, or listening to music.
  • Pause – Before reaching for the bag of chips, stop and think: am I hungry, or am I bored? Wait 10 minutes and see if you are still truly hungry.
  • Eat smaller portions –   If you wait 10 minutes and still can’t stop thinking about those chips, have a smaller, individual portion to keep you from overeating.
  • Practice mindful eating – Slow down and take the time to really enjoy the smell, tastes and textures of your favorite foods. Try not to multi task – make eating your only activity.
  • Seek help if you need it – Emotional eating can sometimes be a symptom of depression or anxiety.  If you feel this may be the case, talk to your healthcare provider, a diabetes educator or a mental health specialist.

Post content reviewed by Jen Searl, MLS, CHWC

National Nutrition Month 2016

March 10, 2016 at 10:10 am | Posted in Nutrition | Leave a comment
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By Melissa Rowe, Dietetic Intern

It’s March and spring time is in the air but that’s not the only exciting thing about this month. March is National Nutrition Month®! Every year since 1973, we have celebrated National Nutrition Month® as a way to promote the nutrition profession, educate individuals on the importance of making informed nutrition choices, and help develop healthy diet and exercise habits.

The theme for 2016 is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.” The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics wants to “encourage everyone to take time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to our lives.” While it is important to “focus on the numbers” when managing diabetes, it is also important that you remember to enjoy the food you are eating. Eating should not be considered a task but rather a pleasant activity.

We often forget how important the food we put into our bodies is because we are busy, but how and why we eat is just as important as the food itself. Developing a practice of mindful eating will help you slow down and notice the flavors and textures of your meals. Exploring how, when, where and why you eat can affect blood sugars as well.

I challenge you to commit in March to start making small changes in your diet. Small changes are far more achievable and realistic than drastic changes. These changes don’t have to be something you do every day, but working a few into your day a couple times will help you start to form a habit of choosing healthier options. For people with diabetes, these changes will help with blood sugar and weight control. Start small to make long term changes!

A few ideas to get you started:

Healthy Swaps

 

Post content reviewed by the MGH Department of Nutrition and Food Services

Mindful Eating

June 14, 2012 at 9:00 am | Posted in Comics, Guest Post, Nutrition | 2 Comments
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mindful_eating


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