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Dealing with Emotional Eating

Ask Bitten Jonsson

Do you ever eat more when you’re feeling down or stressed? Do you even start eating, keep going and not stop eating until you literally can’t eat anymore?

If so, what can you do? This and other questions (can toothpaste be too sweet and trigger cravings?) are answered by our food addiction expert, Bitten Jonsson, RN:

Is Toothpaste Too Sweet?

I’ve been wondering if things like toothpaste and mouthwash contribute to a craving for sweets. They are the first thing you use in the morning and the last at night.

I just realized after brushing this morning how very sweet tasting they actually are.

Linda

 
Linda,

Some of my clients have experienced the same. But most are not that sensitive. There should be better toothpastes at some health stores and I do not recommend mouthwash, since it will destroy the good bacteria in your mouth and you need those.

Check google for toothpaste made with bakingsoda and coconut oil. I have heard people using it with good results. Good question.
Thank you.

Bitten

Coffe, Caffeine, Milk Protein and Addiction

Hi Bitten,
I’ve noted almost everyone advocating the LCHF diet recommends avoiding fat-reduced milk, in fact the Diet Doctor himself referred to it as ‘white soda’ and I wonder why? I much prefer lite milk in my coffee and tea and when i look at the nutritional information it doesn’t seem to have much more carb or sugar that full-cream milk (typically 4.9% carb & sugar compared with 3.9% in full-cream milk) although the fat content is well down obviously. Am I doing myself a great dis-service by continuing to use lite milk in my hot drinks and if so why?
Thanks,
Tony

 
Hi Tony, I have never heard the term ”white soda”, but I think I can understand why. When eating LCHF it is important to use full-fat products as our bodies need the fat. Then it depends if you are a social user, harmful user or an addict of sugar/flour. In my experience, addicts are triggered by ”lattes” and it does not matter if it is skim milk or full-fat milk, it seems to have to do with the milk protein and a combination of coffee, caffeine and milk. So if you eat lots of fat otherwise and feel no negative consequences, for example cravings, I think you can keep doing it. I guess it is the flavor you like? Bitten

Emotional Eating

Hi Bitten,
I would like to ask you about “emotional eating”. I do not suffer with an uncontrollable addiction – I do 24-hour fasts on weekdays and find that this really controls things, however, I am both an “emotional eater” and a “drunk eater” (obvious how to control the latter!). While I no longer spend my days obsessively googling food porn (okay, maybe I am an addict.. I still do it if I’m hungry), if I’m feeling down or stressed, I start eating, and I will keep going until I literally can’t eat anymore. Can you point me in the direction of methods which deal with emotional eating, or anything to help with my natural inclination to eat everything on my plate, even when I am full. I feel that these two things really hold me back.

Thanks so much.

 
Hello Rojin, in my world, I know of no one who wants to be an addict but what you are describing is addiction, which is loss of control. Addiction has many ”faces” or symptoms, as I like to teach my clients about. If we learn early that food can change how we feel we will of course use food if we feel something we do not like. In my experience, most people use certain foods (sugar/flour) to increase their energy. It seems that we do not like to be tired. When we are tired we cannot deal with any feelings so they all become amplified and then we connect these feelings to eating. When you use the term ”drunk eater” I use the term volume addict and we know that the neurotransmittor that is low is oxytocin which then is temporarily raised from an overfull stomach which creates a feeling of calmness or numbness.

Any addict can stop the addictive behavior for a brief period if pressure is high (to lose weight, or fool ourselves we have control, or if someone pushes or challenge us etc.), but it will not be a long-term change, we are on and off which is devastating for both body and mind. I also assume it is not cucumber or boiled cod you eat when you overeat?

Here is a simple screening:
UNCOPE, Screening for sugar* addiction
Circle YES or NO
Sugars can be any carbohydrate such as pasta, bread, sweets, cookies, soda, icecream, junkfood etc,

1. U= Unplanned Use
In the past year, have you ever eaten more sweets*than you meant to? Or have you spent more time eating and using sweets* than you intended to? YES NO

2. N = Neglect
Have you ever neglected some of your usual daily responsibilities due to using and or overeating sweets* ? YES NO

3. C= Cut down
Have you, in the last year, felt that you wanted or needed to cut down on eating sweets*? YES NO

4. O= Objected
Has anyone objected to you overeating sweets* ? Has your family, a friend, or anyone else ever told you they objected to your eatinghabits ?
YES NO

5. P = Preoccupied
Have you ever found yourself preoccupied with wanting sweets* ? Or have you found yourself thinking a lot about sweets* YES NO

6. E = Emotional discomfort
Have you ever used sweets/food* to relieve emotional discomfort, such as fatigue, sadness, anger, tiredness or boredom etc ? YES NO

With four or more yes to sweets/overeating/food* the risk for being addicted is very high. Another very important piece of knowledge is that the very nature of our ”problem eating” will create false feelings due to a biochemical imbalance and then we eat on those false feelings creating a terrible merry–go-round. I do not work with psychotherapy on my clients. I deal with addiction and if you are an addict, the addiction treatment will resolve the issues you talk about. If you feel this is not you at all I advise you to look for at therapist working with your issues. But if you now think you might be addicted you need to look for professionals trained in working with that. A good book to start with is Food Junkies by Dr Vera Tarman and to look for 12-step groups like Overeaters Anonymous or Food Addicts Anonymous where you live. I really wish you recovery. Bitten

More Questions and Answers

Read all earlier questions and answers – and ask your own! – here:

Ask Bitten Jonsson, RN, About Food Addiction – for members (free trial available)

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