Overeating During The Pandemic

To tackle disordered eating, whether during a crisis or not, we must understand why we’re overeating, then take steps to break the cycle of anxiety, shame and sadness that characterizes the disorder. One way to do that, studies have shown, is through something we can all especially benefit from: self-compassion.

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Overeating during a crisis? Research says don’t beat yourself up — try being kind

washingtonpost.com

Researchers know that people who struggle with emotional eating and binge eating have trouble calming down when faced with conflict and upsetting feelings . Turning to food is one way to distract from and cope with these unpleasant feelings.

For individuals predisposed to binge eating, overeating releases dopamine, a 'feel-good' chemical in the brain that elicits pleasure.

Once these warm and cozy feelings fade, shame reemerges, as does the urge to overeat, leading to a troubling cycle.

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How Self-Compassion Breaks The Overeating Cycle

Using self-compassion to deal with emotions can calm the emotional and physical stress that fuels unhealthy eating behavior:

  • Self-directed kindness can ease the flight-or-fight response by activating the soothing part of the brain.
  • Once the body relaxes, the tough emotions begins to settle, which helps people think more clearly about their eating behavior.
  • Self-compassion is an exercise in shame resilience. One way to do it is to talk to ourselves the same way we would speak to a friend.

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