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Step Away From the Donut: The Perils of Emotional Eating

5. Keep an Eating Diary
Make notes when you eat. Did that extra ice cream make you feel good? If so, for how long? Did it really relax you? For how long? Did you spend the rest of the evening feeling bad about yourself? Was that treat worth the after effects?

6. Don’t Just Write in the Diary…Read It
Read your notes over the next time you decide you deserve a treat. Read them over two or three times. Then, if you still want the treat, eat it. Don’t dwell on it as a failure. Eat it, enjoy it and then consider if it really helped or if the good feeling was transient. Awareness can be a huge motivator.

7. Enlist the Help of Your Family
Enlist the help of your spouse or partner if he or she is sympathetic to your issue. Your mate wants to keep you healthy for a long time. It’s not just your elder who counts. You want a future. A healthy you will mean a happier you, which will make you a better caregiver now, and most likely ensure a longer, happier life for your future.

None of this is easy. Whether a person has trouble eating at all because stress diminishes the appetite, or a person overeats to get comfort, health can be affected. Just deciding one time that we will change our ways isn’t enough. We need to decide again each day – or each minute – whether we will change how we think about our body and our reward system and renew our commitment to this change.

Remember that you are not alone in your struggle. Try to find a sympathetic person or group to support you, and find something – anything healthy – to substitute for food when you need a reward. It will take time, but you can do it. If you don’t find a way, you may not be there to care for your elder when he or she needs you most. Beyond that, you deserve to be healthy and as happy as you can be.

Related:
Why Helping Other Caregivers May Make You Happier
Caregiving: A Legacy To Be Proud Of
Constantly Feeling Mad, Guilty? How to Break Out of a Mental Rut

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

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22 comments

+ add your own
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
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