Underground Confidence Recovery

68. 5 Powerful Reasons Why You can't STOP EATING - Unraveling the Complexities of Comfort Eating

January 17, 2023 Shelley Treacher Underground Confidence Season 4 Episode 1
Underground Confidence Recovery
68. 5 Powerful Reasons Why You can't STOP EATING - Unraveling the Complexities of Comfort Eating
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Maybe you're frustrated with yourself for not being able to stop eating? Or maybe you know your triggers are emotional? In this podcast we explore the complexities of comfort eating and the various factors that contribute to the difficulty of stopping. We discuss five reasons why managing binge or comfort eating has nothing to do with self-discipline. We look at the chemical, ancestral, genetic, physiological, and biological influences that play a role in our eating habits. Additionally, we examine the effects of food availability, marketing, society, culture, and habit formation on our eating behaviours. Finally, most importantly, we delve into the emotional reasons behind comfort eating and how it is often used as a coping mechanism for various life stressors. Here I begin to show you that compassion is going to be your secret weapon against comfort eating.

Another podcast you might like:
69. 3 Ways To Uncover What Triggers Your Emotional Eating, & Post-Pandemic Feelings

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Today, I'm gonna tell you why it's so hard to stop eating.

Hi. This is Underground Confidence with Shelley Treacher. I help you to recover from comfort eating. If you're a regular listener, welcome back. You'll find that this is my annual update of my first podcast. I'm producing an online program which is making me update my work. I'm gonna be gradually upgrading all of my podcasts so you will find lots of new material here and a good reminder of all the things that you may have forgotten about comfort eating recovery. If you are brand new here today, welcome. I am so glad to have you here because I'm so hopeful that you'll be able to resonate with what I'm saying. And finally feel that there is help out here. To that end, let's see if you can identify with the podcast today.

Are you someone who feels utterly frustrated? Because you cannot stop yourself from meeting, but really wish that you could. Or maybe you actually know that emotions drive your rating, but you've no idea what to do about it. In these podcasts, I talk about the side of overrating that nobody really seems to talk about. The emotional and the psychological side. There are so many reasons why you can't stop eating, and that's what I'm talking about here. But these podcasts are so much more than just about comfort eating.

Often when I tell people that I do a podcast, and they hear that it's about comfort eating, they think, oh, that's not relevant to me. But you know what? It often really is. If you've got any kind of anxiety, any relationship difficulties, any mental health concern or worry, these are probably gonna relate to you in some way. These podcasts are about what makes us human and need comfort in the first place. So the things I talk about here could apply to any addiction or many many emotional difficulties and relationship problems. I help you to find your real inner strength and confidence because that is completely unutterly bound up in what comfort eating really is. I know you've got it inside you, so it's my job to help you find it. Maybe you are someone who nobody really knows how you feel. And you act in secrets or maybe you feel alone and maybe you get angry with your boss sometimes, maybe work is stressful, there could be a myriad of different emotional reasons that trigger you to eat. And maybe sometimes you do overeat a lot These podcasts will help you. I can help you understand what it is that you're doing, what's going on for you, and then I can help you to recover it or address it. And I can also help you to find other people who feel the same way as you do and who are going through exactly the same Today, I'm gonna help you to understand why it's so hard to stop.

But first, I'm gonna tell you what comfort eating isn't. It isn't a response to hunger. You probably know that right. Biologically, we're supposed to just eat when we're hungry. To the rest of the time if we're not responding to hunger, we're doing something else and we're responding to something else. Eating junk food is comforting. It gives you a chemical response in your brain and in your body that makes you feel soothed, blissed out, calm, numb or it might even give you a hit or a high.

In our society, as with many cultures around the world, we have an assumption that people who are overweight could just stop eating and do some exercise. Lots of people come into my office with frustration, happiness, irritation about the stories of how their doctors, their personal trainers, and sometimes their family and friends have told them to just cut down on sugar or eating and to try this or that diet or to take up running or swimming or some kind of exercise. This is not likely to be a total revelation to someone who overreats. People who overreats, people who comfort eat, know that this is what it takes, but can't do it for for the reasons that I'm gonna tell you later. And they feel a huge amount of shame for just not being able stop eating and a giant amount of frustration. My hope here in these podcasts and in all of my work is to explode the myth that just saying no to everything is enough. It's not just about finding willpower. It's a lot more than that. Compassion is gonna be your secret weapon against comfort eating, and this is where it starts. By giving yourself a break for not being able to stop eating. There are so many different reasons why losing weight or not being able to stop eating is not just a matter of willpower. So let's talk about the structure of addiction first.

There are chemicals in the brain that contribute to addiction. It doesn't take much for us to get hooked on dopamine. Every time we taste something we like, we get a fake dopamine hit, and the brain wants to repeat that process. Putting it really simply when you eat chocolate for the first time, you get a fake dopamine hit. If you had chocolate when you were feeling depressed, and that chocolate that hit made you feel better, which it usually would. That's gonna be a new association in your brain. And your brain will crave that dopamine hits whenever you feel a little bit miserable. It's like the brain goes, oh, I know what we can do. I really like that. Let's do that. That's gonna make us feel better. And your brain works on overdrive, trying to get that fake dopamine hit. The more you do this, the more you repeat this fake dopamine hit, the more you only produce fake dopamine. It reduces the production of your real dopamine. Eating junk food, the food that isn't very good for us, is comforting. It's the Association of Pleasure that becomes a chemical addiction when that dopamine strikes.

Whilst chemical addiction is compelling, it's not actually enough to make a full on addiction. It's not enough on its own to make it impossible for you to resist that craving, or else all of us would be exactly the same. So let's talk about some other things. Let's talk about our inheritance and our environment and how these might affect your choices. One of the things that we inherit is a predisposition to eat as much as we can when food is available. And to store weight rather than to lose it as a way of surviving for longer. Because starvation used to be an issue until very recently our history as a species. That's a big enough reason.

But apart from chemical dependency and our genealogy, We also have other physiological or biological reasons why it's hard to stop eating and lose weight. One of these things in our biology is that we don't actually register with full until quite a long way after the fact that we are. Also, falling blood sugar makes us wanna eat. And the feeling of society, the feeling of being satisfied with food, it can really easily be overridden. Also, our digestive tracts have the capacity to expand, to keep on storing food. Those are all massive reasons. Right?

I hope you are starting to think, maybe there are other things apart from Whirlpool, the other reason why I can't stop eating. And there is much more. We also have these things: the availability of food, Food has become available everywhere from the checkout counter at H and M to the twenty four all night petrol station. And junk food, the food that's probably not gonna be good for our bodies, is really cheap and it looks good and it smells good. And it's everywhere. Think about the way that food is marketed. Psychologically, people know how to make it look and smell amazing. Don't adverts look tempting. Interesting. Colorful. Like your life is gonna be better if you behave this way. Like everybody is having such a great time when they're eating and drinking. It's really clever. And it does take quite a push to rise above all of the things that I've just mentioned.

But here's another couple of other good reasons why it's hard to stop eating. We've also stopped being so active. We're on screens all the time. We drive everywhere and we're so busy getting everything done. Getting money in, taking care of, and responding to everything and everyone that it is actually quite hard to be proactive in scheduling in exercise. And preparing food. So these are a lot of pragmatic reasons why it's hard for anyone to stop from eating.

But now let's talk about habits and association. The way we eat is habitual for all of us, and we don't like to change. We don't like things to change. We don't volunteer to change. We have to really think about it if we want to change something. And then we have to work it out and then we have to practice really well for quite a while. Apparently, one of the last things that people change when they move to a different country is their food habits.

Food is comfort to us. It's nurture, it's safety. Its familiarity and it is just part of being human. Habits are based on a Q and reward system. So our habits build just like the dopamine hit in response to something that feels good. We are pleasure seeking creatures we really only veered towards pleasure and survival. Food can be classes both of those. So if we have a reward, we do it again. Comfort eating feels good, so we get into a habit of it really fast. Think about how easily we associate social occasions with food and drink, and maybe even rest times or holidays They've become associated with food and drink too. Right? How many times have you said to yourself? I'm on holiday. It doesn't count. I know I do that. I think we can all relate to a lot of this.

But the final factor in not being able to stop comfort eating is the use of food for emotional management. Without this one, none of the ones that I've mentioned already would make any lifelong difference to us, and we would all be exactly the same, but we're not. Zoe La Valle in her article why we crave specifies that adverse childhood experiences, mental health issues, stigma, prejudice, discrimination and social exclusion may also contribute to addiction. In a nutshell, food is emotionally comforting. We use it to cope with any of these experiences and so much more. At some point, we just got stuck in a groove. Most of us do this at some point. Who hasn't sued themselves with biscuits, all cookies, cake, crisps, pizza, takeaways when feeling frustrated. Comfort food, the term comfort food is such a widely used term without really giving it much thought. And the occasional use of food, of course, to comfort, won't make a lot of difference. However, if it's frequently used, it leads to overriding signs hunger and, of course, to health problems, also to obsession and, of course, weight gain.

Other coaches and therapists will help you with the practical side of overeating with nutrition and with some of the things that I've mentioned today. My work is gonna you with the emotional side of eating. The people who come to me and to my groups have tried so many different ways and ideas and approaches to weight loss, but it hasn't worked. In fact, I think it's made it harder I know you know what it is that you should be doing practically, and I know that you feel powerless to do it. This is not a lack of willpower. It's also not being lazy.

Food is something that we habitually use to escape the perceived discomfort of life. I'm gonna help you with every single piece of that sentence. So I'm gonna say it again. Food is something that we habitually use. I'm gonna help you with habits. To escape, I'm gonna help you with dissociation. The perceived. So I'm gonna help you with your perceptions and your beliefs. Discomfort of life. I'm gonna help you with that. I'm gonna help you with working out what your discomfort is and recovering from that. So that's what I'm gonna help you to understand and to managing my costs.

When I start talking about emotions, the emotion that's behind comfort eating, one of the things that people often ask me is, isn't it just a habit? Does it have to be something emotional? Pretty much everyone asks me that. And the answer of course is yes. It is deeply ingrained as a habit. But there is also often something uncomfortable behind it, hence the label comfort eating. But whatever you call it, whether you call it stress eating, sugar addiction, binge eating, or just plain over eating. Maybe you do this a little bit, maybe you do it, a medium amount, maybe you do it in response to something specific, or maybe you live the day eating all the time. And recently I heard from somebody who gets up in the night to eat every hour. Whichever one of these people you are, this podcast is gonna help you. What I'm saying here is that this is the tip of the iceberg that there is much more to the way that you feel that never gets discovered. Because you eat before you can discover it, it gets squashed down.

What I've done today is talk about all the various different reasons that might cause you to comfort eat, other than willpower. From the chemicals involved to the powerful ancestral genetic, physiological and biological influences. I also talked you through the effects of food availability, marketing, society, culture and the formation of habits. And finally, I mentioned that there are emotional reasons why it's hard to stop eating. That's what these podcasts are about. The complexity of being human and emotional. That's why these podcasts are not only relevant to you if you're strated with eating, they're also relevant to anyone who ever had trouble with being human and emotional. I think that's all of us.

But if you are a comfort eater, this puts you in the category of normal. Which is the first thing that I want to educate you in. If you are a comfort eater, what you're going through doesn't make you annoying, wrong, or embarrassing. It means you're human. We have such shame and negativity around being a comfort eater and about emotion and feelings. So you can't be expected to have the right skill set to cope with emotion, but it is possible for you to land that. And that's why I'm here to put it really simply and I cannot underestimate the power of this to be able to stop comfort eating, you need to understand what's going on for you and you need to find a place of compassion for that. This takes education and practice. And it begins with recognizing that there is a motion behind your eating. So that's what I'll help you to understand in the next podcast. In the next podcast, we'll start to explore how you've managed your emotions with food.

If you'd like to be informed of when the next podcast is coming out and help with the emotional side of comfort eating, please subscribe to underground confidence recovery. On your favorite podcast provider, or you can follow one of my channels on social media. I'm on most of them. If you want further help addressing this much more personally, you can wait for my program to come out online. You can join my community group on Facebook. Which will be turning into another thing online, or you can work with me individually or in a group. But be in touch soon because spaces are limited for both of these latter options. This is Shelley Treacher from underground confidence Thank you so so much for listening. I'll see you again very soon.

Uncovering the Causes of Comfort Eating
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