Do You Have an Unhealthy Relationship with Food?

Woman hiding behind filing cabinet eating a chocolate barBy Arricca Elin SanSone

If you've ever cried through a pint of ice cream or eaten because you were bored, the answer might be yes! Here's how to tell and what you can do to fix it.

You Eat When You're Stressed
You're stressing about something and find yourself noshing on carbs and sugar even when you're not hungry. Every time you are stressed, you "need" a bag of chips! What gives?
"The area of the brain that delivers calming hormones is in the same part of the brain that gets pleasure from food," says Marjorie Nolan Cohn, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "When you need soothing, the chemical reaction you get from food can make you feel good in the moment. But the effects only last temporarily."

How to Fix It
Substitute other self-soothing behaviors for food when you're feeling worried, says Cohn. "Distract yourself with another activity. You don't have to spend an hour at the gym; even a ten minute walk can work," says Cohn. Wait out the urge to eat by writing an email, reading jokes from a funny website, calling your friend, or popping a piece of gum in your mouth.

You Have Trigger Foods You Can't Resist
You love ice cream. Or chocolate. Or potato chips. The problem is when you get around these foods, you just can't stop yourself from going overboard. "The danger is that if you overeat that food, you may say, 'I messed up. I might as well keep going,' and overeat the rest of the day, too," says Cohn. "If you're doing this every week, it's a problem."

How to Fix It
You know what your sweet spot is.

If there's a certain food that calls to you from the pantry or refrigerator, don't keep it in the house, says Cohn. If you love ice cream but know you're going to eat the whole pint if you dig in, treat yourself to a dish or cone only when you're out. Or buy single-serve portions and eat only one. But be honest with yourself; if you don't have the personality to eat just one serving, it's better not to keep temptation around.

You Eat When You're Bored
You're watching TV so you wander into the kitchen during commercials for a snack. Or you're eating even though you just had dinner an hour ago. "Food is always around us, so it's easy to eat if we have nothing better to do," says Jennifer McDaniel, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It's also a problem that "we're naturally drawn to the kitchen because it's typically a warm, comforting place."

Click here to read the rest of the twelve triggers!

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