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Advice on eating and depression?

When it comes to eating, I'm a BIG emotional eater. It seems I eat when I'm depressed, lonely, bored, angry, sad and even when I'm really excited or happy about something.

How can I stop this behavior? I've heard people recommend getting a dog to myself and ward of depression, loneliness, sadness and boredom but I don't know if I have enough time for a dog plus, my apartment is tiny.

Any suggestions? Thanks!


Wed. Jun 1, 1:51pm

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Getting a pet of any kind is a big step that you need to be prepared for. If you have a tiny apartment, you can still have a dog; you just need to be a little more selective about which breed you choose. You can also another type of apartment-friendly pet (cat, ferret, rabbit, bird). However, don't expect a pet to be a miracle cure. I am a chronic binge/emotional eater and I have four dogs, two parrots, and a turtle! I also have a roommate and still frequently eat out of feelings of loneliness/depression.

I find that I most frequently reach for snacks out of boredom; the best thing for me is to go for a walk or a bike ride when the urge to munch comes on. I also call friends to catch up, which alleviates both the loneliness and boredom, as well as keeping me away from food as a courtesy to whomever I'm on the phone with (who wants to hear crunching in their ear?).

The best thing to do is try to work on better outlets for whatever emotion is causing you to overeat. If it's boredom, leave the house. Read a book. Surf the web for health-related articles. DON'T WATCH TV! Studies have shown that people eat more in front of the tube than when seated at a table, and have less awareness as to how much they've eaten and when they become physically satiated.

If you're eating out of feelings of loneliness, I would suggest structuring your social life a bit. Plan a regular girls' night out, join a club, take up classes or a group activity like softball. If you find it difficult to motivate yourself at the gym, see if you can find a pal who's willing to devote a few nights a week to working out. The more you have on your social calendar, the greater appreciation you will have for your just-me time.

Emotions like anger and sadness can't really be headed off, so it's best in these cases to find other ways to express your emotions (maybe by taking a walk or writing in a journal). If you absolutely must drown your sorrow, make it in a bowl of fat-free sorbet rather than a pint of Ben and Jerry's.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005, 4:00 PM

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emotional eating & TV

I definitely relate. I noticed that tonight I didn't watch any TV -- a friend called and I was online. I also didn't have a snack, which I normally would do out of boredom or imagined hunger. Instead I had a glass of water and stayed out of the kitchen. I know that I will also go shopping for the same reasons - boredom, needing a little lift, or to celebrate. At least with shopping, I can always return the item if it was a dumb impulse purchase. I can't really do that with a fattening late night snack. Interesting how they are connected. I guess I just need to be more aware. One thing is to start by replacing the usual thing you'd reach for with something more healthy or to start by having a glass of water to try and fill yourself up. Normally I'd have something hot in the evenings (tea or hot milk or cocoa), but then I want something to dip in it. Water does not make me want to dip anything in it!

I read recently that there was a study of people with depression where one group was encouraged to take walks outdoors for something like 30 minutes a day. Those who did regularly walk in the sun showed huge improvements similar to those on antidepressants.

I know that having been pregnant twice that hormones play a much more significant role in our hungers and emotional states than we might think. During my pregnancies, I was not at all moody, very content, only wanted to eat healthy foods (I had broccoli cravings and didn't have any desire for chocolate or sweets). That stayed for maybe 6 weeks after I had the baby and then I was back to wanting chocolate again! With the first pregnancy, I had a miscarriage about 3 months in and after the pregnancy hormones wore off, I became very depressed. As soon as I was pregnant again a few months later (even before I had a positive test result), I felt fine. It was really freaky and made me wonder what's changed in my hormonal make up over the years -- I started gaining weight each time I went on the pill starting in my late teens and I feel like my body never went "back" to normal except when I was pregnant. Well, maybe that'll be somebody else's research project some day! I just wish I could take or do something that would make me feel like I did when I was pregnant, since I know I'd just naturally lose weight.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005, 10:17 PM

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One other idea, since it sounds like getting a pet isn't really practical, is maybe to try meditation. There's a very relaxing tape I have liked over the years called Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain. She has the most soothing voice and it puts me into a deeply relaxing trancelike state. The "pink bubble technique" has your troubles floating away to resolve themselves in the universe -- very satisfying.

Link

Wednesday, June 01, 2005, 10:21 PM

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Thanks you guys. I can totally relate to eating AND shopping out of dissatisfaction, sadness, etc. I'm trying to fill up the free time when I usually eat emotionally by finishing projects that I've neglected. It keeps me occupied, and I feel better about myself for getting things done. As for the pill. I think it is evil! When I got on the pill my hormones went nuts and it took me trying all sorts of pills to find one that didn't make me feel psychotic. 5 yrs. later- last November- I decided to stop taking the pill so that my body could be free of unnecessary drugs. Well, now my hormones are nutty again- resulting in breakouts like never b4, weight gain, and a lovely thing called a melasma. Someone suggested that I see a doctor about balancing my hormones. Ugh, I was doing all of this to take care of my body! Stay strong out there.
:)

Wednesday, June 01, 2005, 10:27 PM

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Thanks you guys. I can totally relate to eating AND shopping out of dissatisfaction, sadness, etc. I'm trying to fill up the free time when I usually eat emotionally by finishing projects that I've neglected. It keeps me occupied, and I feel better about myself for getting things done. As for the pill. I think it is evil! When I got on the pill my hormones went nuts and it took me trying all sorts of pills to find one that didn't make me feel psychotic. 5 yrs. later- last November- I decided to stop taking the pill so that my body could be free of unnecessary drugs. Well, now my hormones are nutty again- resulting in breakouts like never b4, weight gain, and a lovely thing called a melasma. Someone suggested that I see a doctor about balancing my hormones. Ugh, I was doing all of this to take care of my body! Stay strong out there.
:)

Wednesday, June 01, 2005, 10:28 PM

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