Become aware of How You Originally Got Addicted to Food
If you have an out of control eating pattern, you might wonder where it came from. Did you become an emotional eater because you have specific emotional problems or did some genetic wiring in your brain’s appetite control centre go crazy? Probably not. Emotional eating is the norm at birth for all of us. When a mother feeds her baby, the baby stops crying because the sensation of sucking on something that produces warm sweet delicious nourishment is really soothing. Babies equate their first nourishment with immediate survival, demonstrations of love and a relaxed state of mind. When babies don’t get their mother’s milk, they settle for a substitute – a bottle or a pacifier (dummy) for example. This substitute teat has no warmth, taste, or nutritional value, but it’s close enough to the primal experience to soothe the baby. It’s natural for us to continuously seek comfort from these soothing situations and easy enough, later in life, to utilize food and eating and drinking as the primal pathway that leads us back to those intensely comforting and reassuring experiences of infancy.
Cognitive behavioural therapy teaches us to become more aware of what we’re doing, to pause before we act and consider the consequences, learning to make better choices and so develop better habits.
Recognise that your craving for food is much more likely a craving for something else!
The first, and primal, regulating and controlling factor of your mood was often the assumption that you were hungry. If your needs for food and comfort were met, then you will often equate that comfort on some level with food. And if you were given food every time you became moody as a baby and young child instead of receiving a welcome display of love, affection and attention, then food and love will still be linked as a way to get comfort and you’ll find yourself craving food when what you really want is love.
We need to find better ways to create the feelings of love, comfort and acceptance. Learning to accept ourselves unconditionally is the solid foundation on which to build a stronger emotional support base.
Find Out What Triggers Your Imaginary Hunger?
There are two categories of influences that can trigger imaginary hunger. The first includes situations, places, or events. Perhaps you overeat when you have to attend professional or family functions. For some people, it’s funerals or restaurants or sports events. For others, it’s a boring day at work or the familiar need to release stress after work!
The second category of influences that can trigger imaginary hunger includes people. For you, it’s probably a specific person – your friend, boss, co-worker, parent, spouse, partner, sibling or child – who triggers you to overeat. They may trigger an eating response with a glance, a word, or even with their silence but, whatever it is, whenever you’re around them, you’re sure to overeat.
Here are typical situations where we may all are tempted to overeat:
- Stress at school, university or work
- Stress at home
- Fights with others
- Being judged by friends, family and even strangers
- Feelings of inadequacy
- Fear that you don’t measure up
- Too much to do
- Fear of failure
- Deadlines and pressure
- Promising too much
- Death, divorce, moving house
- Relationship issues
- Children’s needs
- Death of a family member, pet, friend
- Anger, fear, doubt
And the list includes many, many more items!
Forewarned is forearmed! As you begin to recognise the situations where over-eating is more likely to take place, you can prepare yourself in advance and avoid the triggers that might spark a bout of inappropriate chomping! What a fabulous habit to develop in the campaign for totally effective weight control.