I am writing about this important subject in recognition of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Eating disorders are distorted eating habits often related to deep-rooted emotional problems.
This isn't to say that if you sometimes eat because of emotions, you have an eating disorder. But if mood-triggered eating is common, you may want to talk with a professional. Eating disorders can result in serious health complications that may require medical intervention as well as psychological help.
If you suspect you have an eating disorder, seek help from a doctor, dietetics professional, or other professional who has experience with eating disorders and can work with you to develop skills to overcome emotional eating. It may be necessary to overcome your emotional eating habits before you can be successful at maintaining a healthy body weight.
For an overview of the different types of eating disorders, and references for where to get help, see the Diet and Weight Loss Tutorial topic Eating Disorders.
Eating for emotional reasons is an unproductive way to deal with emotions. Most of us don't even recognize when we are engaging in emotional eating, or realize that it's the cause of our excessive weight gain (or loss). We can avoid emotional eating by learning to deal with our emotions using healthy techniques.
One way to discover why you are eating as you do is to keep a food journal. My previous newsletter entitled The Value of Keeping a Food Journal explains how to learn more about your eating habits and take steps toward improving them.
Eating disorders can lead not only to extreme body weight, but also to poor health and even death. It's a subject worth thinking twice about.
Megan Porter, RD