Article by: Michelle Casey
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Why Do I Over Eat? The Scoop on Emotional-Compensatory Eating
Every human being has basic emotional and intellectual needs. You are no exception. There are four needs that your mind strives to fulfill on a very consistent basis: certainty/security, significance, variety, and love/connection. Your mind views these needs as necessities; they are not optional. When a need goes unmet, an over eater's mind uses food to compensate for that need.
The Need for Certainty/Security
Everyone needs to feel in control of their lives; facing the unknown can be very unsettling for many people. When a person loses the feeling of being in control, the mind will strive to regain control by employing whatever habits and behaviors it has been programmed with.
For stress eaters, this is a weakness. Stress often happens when the feeling of control has been lost. Stress eaters seek control through consuming food because, although they cannot control their outer circumstances causing stress, they are able to control what they eat.
Pay close attention to those stressful times and notice if your immediate reaction is to run to the fridge. You could be compensating a feeling of losing control with the consumption of food.
The Need for Significance
Another basic human need is the need to feel important. No one wants to live a life where their presence hasn't made the least bit of impact in the lives of others. We want people to remember us when we are gone, or it will be as if we never existed at all.
But there does need to be balance. Ever hear of the saying "It is lonely at the top"? Being significant requires a certain amount of responsibility; maybe too much for one person to handle.
Maybe food is giving you that "special feeling" that significance emits. Maybe you feel you are too significant and you are feeding your face as some sort of distraction from the responsibility that comes along with being significant. Next time you are feeling like you are being pulled in many different directions, pay attention to your response.
The Need for Variety
Sometimes life can become so certain that it becomes boring! Everyone has the need for variety in their lives. For some people, variety comes in the form of food. For good reason! With so many different kinds of foods out there, the choices seem endless! Plus, food is relatively cheap compared to other forms of "entertainment". So instead of going out to a movie with your spouse or friends and blowing well over $20 on a movie ticket, some popcorn, and a drink; you head to your favorite restaurant or right to your refrigerator, and ease your boredom with your favorite junk food.
Does this sound like you? Pay attention to your actions when you find yourself getting bored. Is your first reaction to head for the pantry or the fridge? Chances are there are many other things you could think of to ease your boredom (like dishes, laundry, a project, etc.); but nothing says "fun" like a brownie fudge sundae!
The Need for Love/Connection
Ah yes...the need for love and connection. This is by far the deepest need. Everyone wants to be and feel loved; everyone wants to feel connected. The most damaging emotions someone can experience are rejection and loneliness; and when rejection and loneliness are experienced, our minds work overtime to compensate. For some people, compensation comes in the form of "comfort food".
Food may be the one variable a rejected person feels they can rely on-it will never say "no" or "not now" or "maybe later". Food is always there to serve its purpose; and if its purpose for you is to comfort you, your mind knows that it will always be there. So your mind quickly employs the habit of seeking comfort from food; and you end up easing your feelings of rejection and/or loneliness with a box of dough nuts or a pint of ice cream.
Examine Your Needs
Take a quick inventory of your needs and identify the ones that are falling short of being fulfilled. This is a major key to obtaining your freedom. Unless you know the problem, you will not be able to find the solution.
If you are over forty take a look at this Fight Fat After Forty: How to Stop Being a Stress Eater and Lose Weight Fast
Article by: Michelle Casey