Emotional connections to food are normal. Overeating is not just about what’s on are plate. Career, relationships, spiritual, health can effect the choices of food we eat. Calories are not treated equal. Research shows that calories from bread, refined sugars and processed foods promote overeating, calories from whole vegetables, protein and fiber decreases hunger. The body is confused. We lead busy lifestyles. We are rushing out the door in the mornings and grab a convenient most likely a processed breakfast item or we eat nothing at all. As the day goes our jobs have us eating in our cars or at our desks. Exhausted when we get off work we look at take out food to come home and relax on the couch. Skipping meals, eating on the go, or eating while watching tv, how does the body know it’s time to eat? These makes to hard for the body to turn on the necessary digestive functions and absorb nutrients. It’s then hard for your body to relay the signals to the brain saying you have ate enough food so overeating occurs.

Here’s what to do instead. Create a more regular eating schedule and take time to eat. This helps the body know when to expect food and creates digestion and fat burning. We naturally burn more energy during the day so have larger caloric intake for breakfast and lunch. Prepare food over the weekend to help have a better choice of quick healthier foods in the evening at home.

Stress in our career. Those who experienced work burnout were far more likely to engage in “emotional eating,” eating when stressed, anxious or upset, aside from when physically hungry. It’s a kind of craving that, unlike hunger, comes on suddenly, and is often targeted intensely toward a particular food. Frequently ice cream and cookies.

Here’s what to do instead. Take a yoga class, hire a personal trainer to relieve stress. Many people don’t know how many calories they need a day. Work with a health coach/nutritionist to design a nutritional program to help emotional eating.

Relationships. Being happy in a relationship can be the best feeling or being in a relationship that doesn’t make you happy can be very toxic. Either can cause us to eat very different. Fighting with a partner leaves you upset and confused so you pick up a pizza eating it all. Having a meal high in carbohydrates increases the production of serotonin and tryptophan giving our bodies a temporary feeling of being calm. It’s like a drug to our bodies. This changes the biochemistry in our body where it isn’t craving nutrients, it’s craving comfort. We can also overeat because our partner makes a great high calorie dinner with a wonderful dessert and we don’t want to hurt their feelings by not eating everything to show we care for them.

Here’s what to do instead. During a challenging time call a friend, read a book, listen to music. This activities can help with the desire to overeat as a form of medication. During the happy times ask your partner to go for a walk, join a workout class, take a healthy cooking class together. This will help burn off the calories you eat from the “loving meal” and you might learn to eat better.