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Step Away From the Donut: The Perils of Emotional Eating

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She knows she is fortunate to be able to stay home and care for her mother. She feels guilty for her occasional resentful feelings about her situation, since she knows many other people would love an option like hers. The only thing that seems brings her comfort is food.

Lately there have been studies pointing to the fact that middle-aged women are prone to eating disorders. I’d like to see statistics on how many of those women are caregivers. We see questions on the forum from women who have gained considerable weight during the months or years they’ve been caregiving. Many have gradually turned from seeking occasional comfort from food to what may be a full-blown food addiction. Food becomes to them the only realistic way that they can relieve their stress.

1. Lose the Guilt
My feelings about this common problem are that caregivers who are “self-medicating” with food must first let go of guilt. If there are feelings of resentment for being tied to caregiving, the resentment is a clue that the caregiver needs to get some outside help. This could come in the form of an in-home care agency sending a paid caregiver to the home for a specified number of hours, or finding an adult day care service for the elder.

Food Guilt: How to Eat Without Shame

Many elders thrive with these additions to their care, as they too can get tired of the same routine day in and day out. They too can need more social interaction. Don’t let guilt keep you from seeking outside help. And don’t let guilt for occasional negative feelings toward your situation take you down. Negative feelings are just that – feelings. They are human.

11 Ways to Stop Caregiver-Related Depression
6 Secret At-Home Stress Relievers
7 Ways to Tackle Stress Eating

Step Away From the Donut: The Perils of Emotional Eating originally appeared on

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1:46AM PDT on Aug 3, 2011

I adore donuts://

11:24PM PDT on Jul 17, 2011

Thanks for the article

10:28PM PDT on Jul 14, 2011

This is such a problem for me. I use food, books, and films to escape my aggravations all too often. Great timing, as I want to make changes. Thank you.

9:02PM PDT on Jul 14, 2011

Well, that photo ff those donuts made me crave donuts really bad :o(.

12:47AM PDT on Jul 14, 2011

Mental and physical stress can elicit an increase in epinephrine and cortisol levels, which in turn, results in increased blood sugar levels.
Whether we like it or not, stress is already part of daily life in this modern world.

Symptoms of stress manifest themselves in a variety of ways.
Sometimes, we are not aware that these signs are stress-related and we tend to ignore them.

I guess we just have to learn to cope with stress. One thing a person can do is change his/her attitude.
Learn to relax. Engage in physical activity such as a brisk walk or yoga.
One thing I learned, is not to worry about things that are beyond my control.

8:11PM PDT on Jul 13, 2011

Don't have those photos of donuts..

2:56PM PDT on Jul 13, 2011

I can't remember the last time I ate a donut. Not that they are not tempting. It is all about willpower.

1:29PM PDT on Jul 13, 2011

Great article. Thanks.

8:55AM PDT on Jul 13, 2011

Trying to change 'firmwired' responses like physical preference for sweet and salt foods is difficult for most people. A donut might be replaced with an orange or pear; ice cream with a healthier banana or papaya. Gobbling down salty meat based snacks might get replaced with raw cabbage or lettuce, or carrots and cauliflower. Mushrooms would make better snacks than cookies and potato crisps.

Eventually a strong person might move to rewarding him/herself with a book, a bit of time on a ski, rowing, or bicycle exerciser, or a cinema on DVD. It will depend on the person - and on the condition of the deteriorating elder. Other caregivers may not be able to get past the idea that a mango or orange is better than icecream or a donut, but still get minimum benefit by eating something with actual nutrition in it.

5:30AM PDT on Jul 13, 2011

As children the easiest, fastest reward is candy. The habit starts early and breaking it is akin to quitting heroin with one small exception, you have to eat, you don't have to take heroin. Changing the brain's thoughts and habits is a really tough job.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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