People deal with stressful moments in their lives in numerous ways. Many find comfort in emptying their pantries and binging on food and snacks. This habit can be damaging for many reasons. First and foremost, it’s not a healthy way of dealing with emotions. Furthermore, it often comes with guilt after the fact and can take a toll on your weight, causing body image issues.
The holidays are an emotional time, and it’s also a time when our fridges are filled with food that we can binge on. Now is the time to learn how to stop emotional eating through neurofeedback training, and say goodbye to this unhealthy habit for good. Beaverton Neurofeedback can help you do so and start making your 2023 New Year’s Resolutions a reality!
Emotional eating, or stress eating, occurs when you are eating to satisfy emotional needs rather than actual physical hunger. An emotional eater is someone who will turn to sweets or unhealthy foods to fill a void or distract themselves from something unpleasant that they are experiencing at the moment.
The stereotype of the heartbroken person eating a pint of ice cream in front of the TV when going through heartbreak is not, for some people, just a stereotype. Emotional issues cannot, unfortunately, be resolved through stress eating. Actually, it frequently worsens your mood. After that, not only does the initial emotional problem persist, but you also feel bad for overindulging.
When we are feeling down, we eat, and more importantly, we eat unhealthy foods and sweets, because it activates our brain’s reward system. What is that? The brain's reward systems are a collection of structures that become active anytime we engage in an activity that is rewarding, such as indulging in a tasty meal or abusing an addictive substance.
Along the brain's principal dopamine pathways are structures that are thought to be a part of this reward system. Dopamine, the primary neurotransmitter linked to rewards and pleasure, is released in response to exposure to rewarding stimuli by the brain. Essentially, when we say “eating our feelings away”, what we actually mean is eating unhealthy foods to give ourselves a dopamine rush and increase our feelings of pleasure momentarily. Because of that, with time, people can start confusing emotional and physical hunger, and feeling unable to differentiate the two.
It's not always a negative thing to use food as a pick-me-up, a treat, or to celebrate. However, when food is your main coping strategy for emotions, you become trapped in a negative cycle where the true emotion or issue is never addressed. Making matters worse, if you don’t overcome emotional eating, you stop learning healthier coping mechanisms for your emotions, find it harder and harder to manage your weight, and come to feel helpless in the face of both food and emotions.
No matter how helpless you feel in the face of your emotions and your relationship with food, you can still change for the better. You can discover healthy ways to manage your emotions, stay away from triggers, differentiate physical and emotional hunger, and how to stop emotional eating once and for all with the help of neurofeedback training
There are two major ways in which neurofeedback training can truly help when learning how to stop emotional eating: by treating the causes of the unhealthy eating habits, and by treating the binging habit itself. Neurofeedback is a non-invasive modality through which clients can receive real-time feedback on their brain activity. It is a form of biofeedback, a mind-body treatment that tries to give patients voluntary control over some normally involuntary bodily systems. Electronic devices are used in biofeedback to show the patient certain processes taking place in their body that they are generally unaware of.
Anxiety, stress, and depression are just a few of the mental health issues that can trigger emotional eating. All of these problems are treatable through neurofeedback training, and by targeting the cause of the problem, it can stop overeating. If you have been diagnosed by a mental health professional with any of these, it’s worth looking into beginning treatment. Binge eating can also have triggers that aren’t necessarily related to a mental health issue. They may appear more sporadically. In these cases, neurofeedback can help with treating the impulse of eating itself, thus reducing the unhealthy habit over time.
By demonstrating to people how their brains react to various triggers, neurofeedback therapy aids patients in learning to control their brain function. Individuals gradually acquire the capacity to recognize particular brain states. They can then learn to imitate desired emotions, such as tranquility, or avoid unfavorable ones, such as the impulse to stress eat.
If you don’t learn how to stop emotional eating, it can have effects that range from less serious, such as impending your weight loss journey, to severe, such as developing an eating disorder in the long term. Neurofeedback therapy can help you solve emotional eating by distinguishing when you feel physically hungry from when you are “emotionally hungry”, and by training your impulse control.
If learning how to stop emotional eating is on your list of resolutions for 2023, then Beaverton Neurofeedback is here to aid you in building healthier eating habits and saying goodbye to stress eating once and for all.