In German, there is a word with no English equivalent. Kummerspeck. Translated, kummer means emotional pain like concern, sorrow, or anxiety. Speck means fat or bacon. Kummerspeck is the weight we gain from eating in times of stress or sorrow.
I’m fascinated that Germans have a word for this. Given how many Americans eat for emotional reasons (like everyone I know who is overweight, not to mention diet-thin people and a few others who “get away with it”), we should have a word for it, too.
Are you an emotional eater? If you regularly do any of these things, the answer is YES:
• Eat when you’re bored
• Feel the urge to crunch or eat sweets when you’re anxious
• Eat when your feelings are hurt, or you’re lonely, angry or upset
• Eat to show someone they can’t control you, even if it means sneaking food
• Use food to comfort yourself in an effort to avoid dealing with negative emotions
• Reward yourself with food when you’ve had a tough day
I’ve written previously about how we learn to use food to soothe our emotions from an early age. How many times when you were young did your parents give you food to stop you from crying?
If you’re a parent, how often have you done it to your own kids? (If you have kids at home and use food as a reward, do your kids a favor and stop immediately!)
So before we are even aware of what is happening, we’re eating to soothe ourselves. We’ve disconnected the link between hunger and eating. Plus eating does absolutely nothing to solve the problem that is causing our emotional discomfort. In fact, it has the opposite effect because our snacking only dulls the pain for a few minutes, but we’re left with our kummerspeck for a lot longer.
No wonder so many people are overweight or obese.
Then we turn to diets to lose the kummerspeck, but diets do nothing to change the habit of self-soothing with food. They actually have the opposite effect.
Diets take us further away from eating in response to our body’s needs. They have nothing to do with eating in response to hunger. Dieters eat in a pre-programmed way, and usually must avoid certain foods. This adds to stress, making it more likely that we’ll eat out of control when the opportunity presents itself. We go “off” the diet and go “hog wild.” More kummerspeck.
Much of our emotional eating is just a bad habit. The good news is that it is a habit we can break. Then, losing weight and keeping it off is a lot easier.
I was an emotional eater for most of my life. I had no idea that it was something I could actually stop doing. What seemed beyond the realm of possibility was that I could end the urge to eat for emotional reasons. But I did! That is how I lost 50 pounds and kept them off without dieting. Now I eat whatever I want whenever I am actually hungry.
You can end emotional eating too. If you need personal one-to-one support, I can help you break this habit so you can slim down to your naturally healthy weight without dieting or deprivation. Unlike a diet, this is a permanent fix. Click here to learn more.