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