One of the most powerful triggers to binge eating episodes is the feeling of being overwhelmed. When life’s demands multiply exponentially, the feeling of anxiety takes over and we may search for the immediate dopamine (neurotransmitter that plays a role in how we feel pleasure) hit with carb rich foods.
There’s a reason why emotional eating is a coping strategy for stressful situations, and it’s not a lack of willpower. Sweet and salty foods are manufactured to be “hyper palatable” meaning as they take over the brain, they release pleasure chemicals like dopamine which makes crave even more when we’re full. The result is overeating followed by cravings for more of the same stuff, in an effort to feel happy again. The drive to receive more feel good chemicals from food is a factor behind emotional eating - many turn to food as a form of comfort, whether it’s because they can’t tolerate difficult feelings or have no other forms of pleasure, it leads to a dangerous defence and an emotional disconnect.
Identifying the triggers that create these eating habits is the first step in changing these types of behaviours. Next time you feel overwhelmed from work or personal stressors, pick just one task to do in the moment, while letting go of worrying about everything else. When one task is completed, move onto the next. Observe how you feel after completing your to do list in this way.
Did you feel less anxious?
Did it reduce your desire to eat to push away the anxiety?
By creating a to-do list for the following day, you can prioritize tasks from most important to least, so that you start each day by accomplishing the activities that will improve productivity and better manage your stress response.
Time blocking your day to prioritize your to-do list will not only improve your mental health but also allow you to allocate the time to engage in activities that improve your physical well being.