Emotional Overeating - Truth Or Fallacy?
The emotional side has been blamed much more often than it deserves.
Many diet literature often claim that people commonly overeat because of stress and emotional concerns.
This is not true.
So if you have labeled yourself an emotional jellyfish, don't lose heart.
There are more concrete, normal reasons.
These normal reasons are right in your body, not your mind.
They are physical and make good sense once you become aware of them.
People who are fat often have emotional problems, but that is because they are human.
The problems didn't make them overeat and get fat, their bodies did.
Oh, and they helped their poor self along by starving trying in the traditional route to lose weight, but their bodies did the overwhelming bulk of the work.
The body's normal, adaptive response to stress is to avoid food.
To understand this fact, here's an illustration.
Suppose a vicious dog suddenly darts out of the bushes, right into the path of a lanky young mailman.
How will his stomach react? It will become queasy.
When a threat presents itself to the normal, thin body, the body automatically prepares itself to flee or fight.
The digestive tract shuts down, allowing the blood to circulate where it's needed most - in the muscles for action or in the brain for clear, fast thinking.
Decisions have to be made instantly and the body must be prepared to act according to those decisions.
Indeed, there's no time to digest lunch! What about those who are fat and tend to overeat? They often have the opposite reaction when something stressful happens.
Why? Fat people are hungry people.
They almost always suffer from an exaggerated, unsatisfied hunger because of their chronic efforts to disregard their appetites.
Constantly hungry, overweight people don't suppress their hunger when under stress because of their exaggerated need for food.
Their need is physical, not emotional.
When a body has been forced to tolerate hunger, stress plus the availability of food produce a paradoxical effect.
Instead of representing an additional stress to the already stress-challenged body, food becomes a stress relief to the hungry fat person.
Given a choice, the body will naturally relieve as many stresses possible, eliminating those stresses over which it has some control.
A lot of stress that the body encounters cannot be relieved, like, say the three-minute speech which is not actually due for several days.
The body must cope with the anxiety of anticipation, and until the speech is given, the anxiety translates to stress.
Hence, emotional and physical stress does not typically cause overeating.
Stress normally causes people to avoid eating, and most naturally thin people experience this.
Obese people experience the opposite effect.
They tend to over eat when they are under stressful situations because food translates to a stress reliever to their bodies.
Instead of the usual additive stress effect that it has on the hunger-satisfied thin person, food offers irresistible relief to the over hungry.