During a counseling session I often hear client’s blame themselves for overeating. They say, “If I only had will power”, “What is wrong with me? “Normal” people know when to stop”, “I am so ashamed”, and “I am a bad person”.

We use food to feed our emotions. We are often not aware that we are having thoughts and feelings about something that is bothersome while we eat unhealthy foods. We just know that we don’t like how we feel, and we need to do something about it, now! This is where we chose to cope by eating a food that we find comforting, like sugars and starches.

Eating foods for comfort triggers something called Dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that regulates emotion and motivation. Dopamine is released when we do something pleasurable like running. However, Dopamine is also released when we do pleasurable things that are not good for us like binge eating. Suddenly we are feeling better and we continue to eat, because we still have not identified why we are eating. We are now eating to cope.

What if we had other ways to cope? What if we could identify not only how we are feeling, but could find a way to cope with those feelings other than eating?

There are healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms. We have already discussed unhealthy ways of coping, by using food. There are also healthy ways of coping. These are different for everyone, but I will list some of the most common ones here; breathing, writing down how you are feeling, walking your dog, taking a bath, reading, reaching out to a friend; “The people who are most successful in recovery (from an eating disorder) get there with help”

Identify Unhealthy Behaviors

Getting a handle on your coping mechanisms requires learning good behaviors and repeating them. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy at Behavioral Nutrition can help you identify unhealthy behaviors that lead to binge eating and teach you how to avoid them. Our Nutritional Therapists have experience working with individuals of all ages to develop healthy eating habits that will lead to a healthier lifestyle.

Research shows that it is not about will power. However, when we experience feelings that are difficult to sit with, it’s about how we chose to cope. Getting started with eliminating a bad behavior can be tough without the right support and Behavioral Nutrition is here to help. Reach out to learn more about how our Nutritional Therapists can help you develop healthy eating habits.