How To Beat Emotional Cravings For Food

Jorg Mardian By Jorg Mardian, 12th Sep 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Diet & Nutrition

One of the biggest concerns of women is that they eat emotionally. In other words, there are times in the life of women when all they think about is food, and that desire for a particular food becomes so intense that great lengths are taken to satisfy their cravings.

Beat Emotional Eating

One of the biggest concerns of women is that they eat emotionally. In other words, there are times in the life of women when all they think about is food, and that desire for a particular food becomes so intense that great lengths are taken to satisfy their cravings.

Picture this: You have a mad desire for a particular brand and flavor of ice cream. But it's not an ordinary brand and you drive from store to store looking for exactly the flavor which will fill that void for high sugar or high fat foods. What's that, you don't have a craving for half a stalk of celery? I didn't think that would have the same satisfying effect. And there's a good reason for that. The general consensus among experts is that emotional and hormonal issues are typical contributing factors to food cravings. In fact, hormonal changes tied into the menstrual cycle of women will often trigger such experiences, as estrogen and brain serotonin (feel good hormones) levels drop. Quite often this contributes to a feeling of tiredness and lethargy, as well as depression.

The downside of these drops is a signal from the brain to eat. Because the body feels tired, the natural response is to reach for those foods we know will quickly give us a pick-me-up, such as a simple sugars or carbohydrate rich white bread or white rice.

Women may not overtly recognize this signal, but they instinctively respond to it. Regardless, the effects are always the same: cravings lead to eating foods such as cookies, ice cream or donuts and the body responds with a rapid increase in serotonin levels, making you feel good temporarily.

Refined, carbohydrate rich foods or sugars are converted to glucose, giving quick energy. However, this little pick up is short-lived, while the crash is long and ugly because of low blood sugar levels. And these, by-the-way, are often exasperated by eating too little during the day, or consuming too few calories.

There is a vast difference between refined and whole grain carbohydrates. The refined variety is processed, meaning it is stripped of nutritional value, inducing sugar spikes. Therefore it is extremely important to consume complex carbohydrates in smaller amounts, even when trying to lose weight. This is because glucose provides fuel for the cells, especially the brain cells.

You should also make sure to avoid Holiday parties because of the strong emotional connection to food, which can make cravings about as intense as possible. Who can say no when the plates are stacked high and people are practically begging you to eat everything in sight?

What about stress?

What if you're unhappy with your life? What if you have a problem handling stress? This issue can really wear on your health emotionally and physically, and must be managed.

Stress also can trigger food cravings in the form of refined sugars or junk foods, so it's not always a matter of willpower. These deceiving "fixes" make you feel good temporarily, but cravings will increase through a continued cycle of crashes which have a nasty biochemical effect. You may have a natural "high" feeling from such wrong foods through beta-endorphins firing in your brain which seem to elevate your mood, depression, or anxiety. But it's a trap! Like a drug, once the high leaves, you feel miserable about the entire experience not only through getting back to your former "low", but also because you're now guilty about the entire experience and possible weight gain. It's a vicious cycle, because the urge to indulge is strong; perhaps more so than feelings of guilt. But even at this point willpower could kick in a lot faster if that "high" feeling was not there to be chased. You know you can feel good again anytime, if you just indulge. Yes, you'll feel guilty, but it's soooo good, right?

How to avoid persistent cravings

This is not a simple equation for everyone. Women have different body chemistry, some with stronger, some with weaker hormonal and emotional ups and downs. But one thing is for certain: all can benefit from smaller portions of wholesome, unrefined foods spaced evenly throughout the day (5-6 portions). If you get a craving, try a cup of green tea, some plain yogurt with peaches, or an apple with natural peanut butter. It's amazing what the calming effect these foods have.

Too many are on calorie restricted, or high protein, low carb diets which MUST end in spectacular crashes and subsequent weight gain. Remember, you're in this game for life and short-term diets have no part in this. Complex carbohydrates regulate blood sugar and help you think clearly and without anxiety. Some examples include:

**Oatmeal or any cereal that you have to cook

**Brown rice

**Sweet potatoes


**Beans, etc.

As you eat your meals throughout the day, make sure to include a couple of small portions of healthy fats such as Olive or Coconut oil to slow down carbohydrate digestion. And eat more protein and vegetable as part of a healthy and diversified attack on food cravings.

Exercise also is an integral part of your new lifestyle plan because it is a great way to control cravings through the release of endorphins. That means you get the same sort of high as reaching for an extra cookie or ice cream, believe it or not.


You need to avoid turning to junk foods as a coping mechanism. They may feel good, but they WON'T help. Learn to re-train your brain to spot the triggers to unhealthy, emotional eating: having the blues, being extremely tired, enduring cramps or period induced mood swings. Even a hard day at the office or enduring a stressful argument with a spouse may lead you down the wrong path.

Then try the tips given throughout this article for a healthier and proven approach to emotional eating.


Blood Sugar, Brain, Carbohydrates, Depression, Emotional Eating, Food Cravings, Stress

Meet the author

author avatar Jorg Mardian
I am a Certified Fitness Trainer, Kinesiology Specialist, Myoskeletal Therapist and Registered Nutritionist. My writing will focus on nutrition, fitness and pain therapy.

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