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Turning To Food Can Trigger Destructive Cycle Of Emotional Eating

Posted December 4, 2001

— People eat because their bodies demand it, but more and more people are turning to food to fill their emotional needs.

Most people first heard of emotional eating in the aftermath of Sept. 11, but it is not new. Cynthia Sass counsels emotional eaters daily. She said the satisfaction from emotional eating is short-lived.

"Emotionally, they're not really resolving those feelings with food, and physiologically, they're feeling sluggish, emotionally fatigued," Sass said.

Over a long period of time, it can lead to much more than just weight gain.

"It could lead to feeling depressed, socially isolated," Sass said.

To break the cycle, experts recommend you start by seeking help. It is difficult to regain control on your own and cutting those foods from your diet usually does not work.

"When you put foods off lists sometimes you're more drawn to those foods and then when you do eat them, you feel even more guilt," Sass said.

Instead, people have to find other ways to deal with their emotions. Because unlike other addictions, food is not something they can cut out of their lives.

"Everyone has to eat, and you have to eat for the rest of your life," she said.

If you find yourself starting to turn to food for comfort, there are things you can do to keep it from becoming a habit.

First, find something else to do:

pick up the phone or talk to someone about what's bothering you.

Find a distraction:

Try cleaning, reading or go for a walk. Exercise helps clear your mind, plus you will burn off calories.


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