Why We Run To Emotional Eating For Comfort – A Quick Look At Our History

Emotional eating took its toll on everybody at some point or another. Literally everybody regardless whether they admit it or realize it or not.

Even way before we became sophisticated and “smart”, when we were little toddlers and kids, we have feasted on many things that we didn’t know we really needed. It’s almost impossible to fathom one child who didn’t crave ice cream or one toddler who didn’t reach for milk, when they weren’t “really” hungry.

We only grew up and our taste and standards changed. We were introduced to more complicated dining habits and varieties. We were introduced to coffee and alcohol, which for the vast majority of people characterized our stomaches “personality”. We simply reach out to coffee to wake up and to alcohol to cool down.

Many of us were even introduced to their favorite cuisines and comfort food later on in life when they were way older. My favorite cuisine by far is Japanese. It wasn’t till I was 20 that I tasted my first sushi and miso soup.

So why have we developed this emotional eating habit where we run for food and beverage to express our happiness, sadness or stress? if this food wasn’t “injected” in our DNA or pushed down our throats as toddlers?

A Quick Look at The History of Emotional Eating

Science and fossils suggest that we have been living on earth for right over 200 thousand years, believe it or not it’s obvious that we have been around for thousands of years whether you agree with the six digit or not. 

For thousands of years our human experience has been limited to things like temperature, smell, taste etc. Extreme luxuries like politics, economics, unions, social networking and arts haven’t been really a top priority to the average peasant, until these things started to determine whether one can find food.

With tasty food being almost the only pleasure to share socially for homosapiens, emotional eating started to take part of our social presence. You reached out to your neighbor or tribe to taste that delicious wildebeest you just hunted, in hope they are going to do the same in the future. Even if you’re not hungry, you are going to join in celebration and excitement. This might have been the early stage of emotional eating.

 

If It Was Fun At First, Why Did It Get Ugly?

Food has always meant money to people. Even when we invented money, it was just a peaceful way of buying food. We knew that we are happy and successful when we had enough food to self-indulge. Matter of fact, food was always linked to success for the vast majority of our time on earth.

Now, what would you do when you feel down? You want to show yourself that you are worthy, successful and strong. Food is the answer, it has always been.

Today, with corporate and modern life stress attacking us left, right and center; we seriously have this authentic and true need to run for some affirmation and entertainment. What is more affirming and entertaining than couch food in front of TV? Welcome to the future.

There are surely other ways we have found along the way that could give us some comfort, like music, art and internet; but for sure those things were not around nearly long as food has been.  Absolutely no competition. Hands down. 

Even funny enough, we have attached food and beverage to those new comfort tools. Popcorn and art, drinks and concerts always go hand in hand.

How Emotional Eating Gets Worse When You’re Multitasking

At our time and age, we are always expected to multitask. And it seems that multitasking is not going away any time soon. But how is that affecting your weight and turns your emotional eating demons on?

Living the moment is what everybody is advising you to do, from Buddha to your shrink. This couldn’t be truer! The more you watch TV or stare at your phone, the more likely you’re going to eat.

Shocking Study: Eating With TV On.

A couple of years ago, two groups of people were invited to an open buffet and ate all their heart desired, then two hours later each group was invited to a separate tea and cookies get-together.

With the very same setting, cookies and tea options. Only one thing made Group A special from Group B. They had a big screen TV.

Surprisingly, Group A ate almost twice as many cookies as Group B did. Even though they seemed to behave very similarly during the heartening buffet!

This is not as shocking as it sounds. It’s just a manifestation of how incorporated we are with multitasking, thinking that we are better at it with the tools we have today in hand; than we actually are.

Homework, Cellphone and Work. There Is No Difference.

Even though it seems like you’re likely to eat more when you are having fun, it’s not always the case. American Heart Association found that 35% of Americans are more likely to eat less healthy at work if their workday is stressful. Yet of course, eating when you are happy still has its perks.

But with work and school becoming more sophisticated over the years, we feel like we can’t simply disconnect and have a food time, so we bring that burger to the desk and munch it mindlessly while staring at our laptops and books.

Just Disconnect , Chew and Enjoy.

You need to learn to disconnect from your work, school, laptop and cellphone once you are about to eat if you are serious about losing weight or eating mindfully. Turn the TV off, leave your desk behind, leave any books or magazines you have and put your phone on silent and keep it away for the 20 minutes you’re eating.

Whenever someone asks me how to stop emotional eating, my number-one advice to them is to chew well.

Though it seems silly, it’s not. When you chew long enough, you are sending signals to your brain that you are eating, the more you chew, the more your brain thinks you’re eating. Very simple. Chewing gum might not count, in case you wonder. Our brains are a little more sophisticated than that.

Why This Job You Hate Makes You Fatter – Corporate Stress Eating Explained With 3 Fixes

If you hate your job and you are only getting fatter, we need to talk.

We all have those days. You are sick and tired of being sick and tired. When you are not bored at work, you are stressed. And seems like those butthole so-called coworkers that really get on your nerve will not quit; not to mention your unreasonable boss.

You are NOT alone. Gallup’s study found that more than 85% of people wake up Monday morning not wanting to go to work. Hating Mondays has become a prominent pillar of our culture. More people hate Mondays than ever before. This is explained by the fact that job is playing a far bigger role in our modern life than we’ve ever seen; ever.

But what does all that have to do with your stress eating habits? If you hate your job and you are only getting fatter, we need to talk.

Why do stress and hunger go hand in hand? Why do we turn to emotional eating under job stress?

Job stress can cause suppressive hunger due to cortisol release, not to mention that 8% of annual health costs and 120,000 deaths in the US are associated with job hatred, Jeffrey Pfeffer from Harvard found.

But let’s focus here, why does this cortisol make us hungry? And why do we turn to emotional eating under job stress?

The answer in simple English is that our body (exactly our adrenal glands) release cortisol when we feel stressed or scared. This has been happening for thousands of years to homo sapiens when they encountered a fight-or-flight situation; e.g. stumbling upon a lion on their way to lunch. This cortisol is released to balance their blood pressure and they run the heck out.

Now obviously in our modern day and time, there are no lions walking around our concrete roads. Homo sapiens have concord the known world and we are the masters now, or aren’t we?

Now we have different stress and fear sources. They are at our offices everyday. This monster snake called email subject or that god of hatred called Boss-assleous. What do we do now that we have come to this stage and we don’t need to run? We get hungry.

 

Now that you understand why this is happening to you, here is what you should be doing

I hope you can find some refuge in knowing that you are not alone and that what happens to you is quite normal. But let’s not get too chicken to fight back.

Here are 3 things you should do when you are under work stress.

1. Add job hunting to your daily routine at your typical needless snacking time

This can help shift your attention from the symptom to the cause. You will eventually get accustomed that hating a job should make you job search, not burger munch.

Job hunting long enough will also help you feel more appreciated as you find some workplaces out there that are looking for individuals like you.

It will either put you in peace with your current job or take you to a different one.

Do it at the time you always stress snack, right after work and on your work breaks for most people.

2. Define and declare stress hunger when you spot it.

No matter what happens at the end, whether you go for food or be smart enough not to; always make sure to acknowledge that this is stress hunger, not real hunger.

Doing so will eventually make you smarter with food choices and help you fight emotional eating in a more effective way.

3. Do not reward your stress hunger with delicious food.

When you spot stress hunger and you can’t fight it, go for the least tasty food ever; don’t go for your favorite supersized quattro formaggi.

This will make your hunger less rewarding and will teach your body to get less excited about food when you’re under stress, because it knows that the reward isn’t really worth it.

Stuff your stomach with veggies and salads. Do it till you are completely full if you have to.

Always remember that it’s smarter to fight first and job hunt.

3 Hacks to Emotional Eating: How Lack of Focus Puts More Food In Your Gut

You have just punched out of the job you have no passion for and now you are a free man to do whatever you want. Life strikes you with many options and indeed, life has many.

Your options are heading to a bar for a few drinks and pee that entire day out, heading home and crash on that couch having some junk food and poop the workday instead; or simply just go home, cook some healthy food and pretend you are a happy person.

Now this is not an article about how doing a job you hate makes you fatter, but I am sure you can relate somehow. If it’s not the routine job, it’s something else that stresses you out. You name it. And you find refuge in “comfort food”.

Now this is a critical moment. If you do not focus and think about what you WANT to do instead of what you USUALLY do, you are going to fall victim to your autopilot and get to do things that you think you want but you really don’t. This is a moment you should stop, think and reflect. Look deep inside and find out what a “full you” would actually say about this moment, when it passes.

Almost every single survey shows that what people want is to “get fit” or “lose weight” and your “full you” is most probably one of them. So, why “what you want” changes when you are done with a stressful daily routine like working and you are finally given the liberty of a choice?
 

The answer is not a surprise, it’s emotional eating in action. It’s the kind of eating that makes you feel guilty when you have swallowed the last piece. And it hits more people than you ever thought, research shows.

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This moment of choice is a tipping point and even though you think you can let it slide because it’s just one time, let me tell you that it’s one time too many. It’s a dictatorship monster that is eating up your choices and leaves you with a hypnotized option that was not really yours.

When you master this moment, you have mastered your weight loss journey. You have become a true free man or woman, having the final say to how you should feel and look. This is far beyond counting calories or arranging meals; this is your freewill in test.

Now, if you want to defeat this monster you have to have a plan. After all they say “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”, and true that! But how can you prepare for that?

1. Always Head Home, Game Is Better Fought On Home Soil.

In respect of going to a restaurant or a bar after a hectic day, make going home your “natural choice” no matter what. That doesn’t necessarily mean you are choosing to eat a healthy or an unhealthy meal at home, but just going home is a good place to start.

2. Prepare A Delicious Guilt-Free Meal At Home Before Leaving To Work.

Once you are home, you are very hungry and the emotional eating monster raises its hand again, mac ‘n’ cheese, it yells. Now the logistics are different. The real “comfort food” that bowl of delicious, quick and guilt-free food in your fridge ready to get microwaved, not the fatty guilty dish the monster is demanding you to stand up and prepare in the kitchen.

3. Write Sticky Notes On Your Fridge When You’re Full.

We all have that “I would tell my younger self…” feeling sometimes. The reason why you would tell your younger self things is that you feel like you have learned things now that you didn’t know back then. Same applies to your Full Self. You have much to tell Hungry You, and Hungry You should listen.

My most effective sticky note I wrote myself was “fit is better than food”. It was my personal motto when I was 97KG/214lbs.

I wrote around 10 notes and stuck them everywhere, and took one with me to work. I would stick that at my desk, I would take it to the workplace canteen and stick it on my serving tray. I had one in my wallet stuck to my debit card in case I accidentally end up with a friend at a cafe or a restaurant.

Nothing is more important and resounding than your own words. Carry them with you.