Eating and Depression...Are They Really Related?
The Impact of Depression on Your Best Intentions with Eating Habits
From your Parker CO Counseling Team
Have you ever found yourself reaching for snacks or a sugary treat, even when you’re not hungry? Or maybe you’ve felt an intense craving for food that can only be satisfied with something unhealthy. This happens to all of us! But depression can intensify those cravings and impact your intentions for healthy eating. Depression can contribute to unhealthy eating habits and cycles that are hard to break.
The Link Between Mental Health and Eating Habits
It is estimated that 1 in 5 people in the United States experience a mental health condition each year. Unfortunately, many of those individuals struggle with depression, which can have a major impact on their diet. When someone is dealing with depression, they often rely on food as a way to cope with their feelings of sadness, loneliness, and hopelessness. This leads to unhealthy eating habits such as overeating or binging on junk food.
How to Break the Cycle of Depression-Induced Overeating
If you find yourself battling depression-induced overeating, there are steps you can take to break the cycle. But first, why break the cycle? Those treats taste good! Indulging can be satisfying short-term. It’s in a lot of movies because many of us can relate to crying into a bowl of ice cream. But long-term, we might not ever get enough of that ice cream because we’re really missing something else. And after over-indulging for a length of time, we probably don’t feel great physically. So first, start by identifying your triggers – what activities or situations make you reach for unhealthy snacks? It could be boredom, stress at work or home, or feeling overwhelmed by your day-to-day responsibilities. Once you know your triggers, make a plan for how you will respond differently when they arise. For example, if stress triggers your cravings for sugary treats try going on a walk instead of reaching for the candy jar.
It’s also important to focus on creating healthy meals that support your mental health goals. Start by incorporating more nutrient-rich foods into your diet such as fruits and vegetables as well as lean proteins like fish and chicken. Eating regular meals throughout the day will also help curb cravings and prevent hunger from leading to overeating later in the day. Still enjoy those treats! They’re good for your mental health too when they are truly enjoyed. But getting intentional about enjoying them can be key to feeling good again physically, giving you more energy to take on other steps that will improve depression, anxiety, and your overall mental health.
Reach Out for Help
If you are struggling with depression-induced overeating it can be helpful to reach out to others for help. Close friends and family can help plan and prepare meals, enjoy treats together, and offer accountability when you need it (Ideally in a nice not judgement way!). RAFT Counseling can also offer a supportive space when you need a different kind of support and accountability. Our therapists provide guidance and support during these challenges. Remember that there are healthy ways to cope with your emotions without turning towards food - counseling is an effective way to gain insight into why you turn towards food when faced with challenging emotions or situations in life. With patience and dedication, it is possible to break the cycle of depression-induced overeating so that you can embrace healthier habits that support both your physical and mental wellbeing!
This blog post does not constitute medical advice nor should it be used as an alternative form of treatment. Please reach out to your medical doctor or nutritionist for guidance around healthy eating habits that are tailored to you. We’re here if we can help on the counseling side!