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Food and Emotion: Why Some People Eat Too Much

America has a weight problem. In the U.S., about 4 in 10 adults over age 20 are classified as obese. It is estimated that more than 130 million adults in the U.S. now have diabetes or prediabetes. And the trend shows no signs of slowing down.

Overeating is at the heart of this troubling trend. And, in some cases, you may overeat as a desperate attempt to answer emotional needs.

How can you address your emotional needs in healthier ways? Try these tips:

  • Look for responses to emotional discomfort other than food. The next time you’re feeling blue, take a long walk outside. Exercise can elevate your mood by changing your body's chemistry. So can sunshine.

  • Address your feelings. Be willing to recognize and address unpleasant emotions instead of staying away from them with distractions, such as eating.

  • Stop and think before you dig into that next bowl of ice cream. Ask yourself: "Do I really want to eat this? Am I even hungry?"

  • Keep an eating journal to write down your daily food intake. This will help you become more conscious of your eating patterns.

  • Adjust your diet. Eating healthy foods can help decrease stress and even out your moods.

  • Seek professional help if you don't feel confident about your ability to stop overeating. Make an appointment with a therapist who treats people who have eating disorders.

And remember: You're not alone. Millions of other Americans struggle with this problem.

Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Paul Ballas MD
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2023
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