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Step Away From the Donut: The Perils of Emotional Eating

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2. Find a Replacement For Food
Try to replace the idea that you “deserve” that extra helping of ice cream because you are so tired and stressed that you need a treat, with a non-food treat. That “treat” can be one of the solutions mentioned above – extra help so you can get out – or it can be some material object you’ve been wanting, or some down time in front of the TV. Yes, I know exercise would be healthier, but we can’t always tackle everything at once. But there are ways.

3. Find a New Reward
Try to replace, in your mind, the way you reward yourself. A void will eventually be filled with something. If we deny ourselves the reward of unhealthy food, we need to replace that thinking with something else or our good intentions won’t last long. As with so many things, attitude is paramount. If we can switch our idea of a reward from food to a talk with a friend, a good movie, a book or magazine or some positive and reinforcing form of exercise, that void can get filled. Many people in Overeaters Anonymous fill that void with faith in a Higher Power and with friends who have similar issues. You may want to seek out a group of caregivers who have a similar problem, or you may want to join one of the support groups for overeaters in general. Most of us do better when we get encouragement from others.

4. Don’t Think Diet….Think Health
Try to replace the “I deserve this treat” with thoughts that “I deserve to be healthy.” Order a DVD that teaches dance steps, yoga or some other appealing exercise. Your elder may even get a kick out of watching you do the exercises. It’s a start.

Don’t think diet, think health. Believe that you deserve good health and that eating well is a huge part of that. We’ve all read diet ideas about keeping munchies like carrots handy. Good advice. But most of us willingly reach behind the carrots for the leftover cheese cake, anyway. We need to be kind to ourselves and realistic.

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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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