A study was published in the Dec 2014 issue of the International Journal of Eating Disorders highlighting the use of food as a way to cope with negative emotions. The results are basically a big huge bummer if you are somebody who tends to use food as a coping mechanism, because it basically says that not only is food ineffective, it actually makes you feel worse, thus creating a cycle of negative emotions and emotional eating.
"Emotional eating (EE) represents an attempt to regulate negative affect; however, current results suggest that this does not work. Instead, there appear to be reciprocal relations in which EE urges contribute to worsening affect, which then contributes to EE urges, resulting in a downward spiral…" (Haedt-Matt et al., 2014)1
What to do instead? Look for alternate coping mechanisms – distract yourself with a hobby (adult coloring books are a new trend), listen to music, take a walk, play with your pet, call/text a friend, journal about it, do some deep breathing. There are a million things you can do instead of eat, you just have to experiment with it to find what works for you.
1. Haedt-Matt et al. Do Emotional Eating Urges Regulate Affect? Concurrent and Prospective Associations and Implications for Risk Models of Binge Eating. Int J Eat Disord 2014; 47:8 874-877
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