Emotional overeating is quite common in the elderly as they turn to the comforts of food to help them deal with loss, loneliness and aging. With April as Emotional Overeating Awareness Month, it’s a fine time for those of you with elderly loved ones to learn more about what it is and how to help.
While some seniors struggle to maintain a healthy weight, there are many elderly people that are emotional overeaters. Family caregivers need to pay attention to the eating habits of elderly loved ones so you can make sure that both their physical and their emotional needs are being met.
What Triggers Emotional Overeating?
Most societies and cultures associate food with pleasurable activities like birthday parties, holidays, casual gatherings, special events and even formal banquets. People have been taught from a very young age that food can bring comfort and soothe hurt feelings. When seniors are dealing with lots of negative emotions, like stress, frustration, loneliness and boredom, they often turn to food to fill up the emptiness and bury their feelings. Besides leading to a number of health issues like obesity and poor nutrition, emotional overeating forces seniors to ignore their emotional needs and prevents them from getting real help.
Helping Seniors Recognize Emotional Overeating Symptoms
You can help the elderly recognize that their eating habits are not healthy and may in fact be symptomatic of emotional overeating. Here are a few questions that you need to ask your senior loved one to get a better idea of their relationship with food and their mental health:
- Are you eating according to your daily needs?
- Do you stick to the proper portions for bagged, boxed or packaged foods or do you finish the containers in one sitting?
- Are you constantly looking for snack food, even if you aren’t hungry?
- What snacks have you had this week?
- When you snack, are you still hungry for meals?
- What do you like to do when you feel stressed or frustrated?
- What do you like to do when you are bored or lonely?
- When do you eat the most during the day?
These kinds of questions can help you gain some insight into their aging loved one and whether or not they have an unhealthy relationship with food. You can also ask the senior care aides that help you with your senior about what they have noticed. Emotional overeating is less about the food and satisfying food cravings and more about using food to fulfill emotional needs and avoid dealing with negative feelings. By looking around at the clues the senior is leaving, you’ll have a better idea of whether emotional overeating is factoring in.
Helping Seniors with Emotional Overeating
Seniors and others turn to emotional overeating because they don’t know the right way to deal with situations in life the right way. They allow food to become the temporary solution to negative emotions and bad feelings.
Exploring ways to manage stress, alleviate frustrations and stay emotionally healthy are important steps in helping your aging loved one to deal with emotional overeating habits. Seniors that can get out and interact with friends, engage in hobbies and enjoy some independence are less likely to experience the negative emotions that can trigger emotional overeating. Senior care aides can work with you to enrich your aging loved one’s daily activities, monitor meals and grocery shopping and help prepare healthy meals and snacks.
Seniors will benefit from a coordinated elder care plan that keeps them active so they can avoid or overcome bad habits that lead to emotional overeating.
If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Rocklin, CA, please contact the caring staff at ApexCare®. Proudly Serving Sacramento, Yolo, Placer & El Dorado Counties. Call Today 916-924-9111.
Since then, I have had a strong interest in helping and supporting our senior community as they age and are unable to care for themselves.Coming from a family of physicians, I am excited to be involved in the medical community by providing the highest levels of non-clinical in-home care to our clients and their families.With my work experience, I firmly believe that ApexCare can touch many lives and have a great impact on our local senior community.
Prior to joining ApexCare, I worked in a wide variety of industries and have owned multiple businesses ranging from construction to mortgage banking.Outside of work, I am an active youth soccer and basketball coach, having coached recreational soccer for over 8 years and elementary school basketball for over 4 years.I graduated with a BS in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and received a Masters of Management degree from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.My career has been focused on building great organizations that deliver the highest absolute levels of service to our clients.I look forward to continuing this passion with ApexCare.