Caregivers for elderly parents may not think that overeating is a problem for their loved ones. Way too many seniors struggle with reduced appetites and adult children may even be worried that their parents aren’t eating enough, much less overeat. However, emotional overeating is a serious issue that affects seniors of all backgrounds.
5 Signs of Emotional Overeating
Emotional overeating is when a person turns to food as a form of comfort and distraction from their emotions. The need to eat is not driven by hunger or nutrition, but by negative emotions. The roots of emotional overeating include boredom, depression, anxiety, loneliness, and more. Food is used to bury the emotions and ignore them, and it can be a hazard to an elderly person’s health and wellness.
Here are 5 signs of emotional overeating in seniors that family caregivers should watch out for:
The senior is demanding comfort food such as cake, cookies, ice cream, chips and other processed foods that are high in carbohydrates and sugar over well-balanced meals. They fill up on the junk food and have no appetite for healthy items.
- They are always eating when they are not really hungry, such as large snacks between meals, eating while watching TV. The senior is focused on eating outside of meals and as a way to keep busy.
- Seniors that continue to eat when they should have stopped at an appropriate portion. Instead of having a well-proportioned snack, the senior eats a whole bag or box of comfort food and doesn’t stop until it’s gone.
- The elderly person is becoming emotionally dependent on comfort food, such as becoming cranky or even angry when the comfort food isn’t present in the house or there isn’t enough to satisfy the urge to binge.
- Consuming food is the only way they can find relief or satisfaction in times of stress or sadness, and other methods of coping simply don’t work.
- Emotional overeating in seniors is a bigger problem than just filling up on junk food. It can lead to poor health, extra weight, and unhealthy emotional attitudes. When seniors rely on food to bring in positive emotions and suppress negative emotions, they become dependent on food as the only way to lift them up.
How to Help Seniors with Emotional Overeating
Seniors turn to emotional overeating because they are not getting their emotional needs met. It’s well-known that the elderly are more likely to struggle with depression and loneliness, but stress, boredom and frustration also take a toll on their mental health. Family members should do what they can to ensure that their elderly loved ones are able to maintain and nurture relationships, stay involved in their community activities, visit with friends and more.
For many family members, using a home care service is the answer to ensuring that their elderly loved
ones have daily care, reliable transportation to community centers and events, and even monitor meal preparations. When seniors are able to stay connected to the people and places that bring them pleasure, they are less likely to turn to food as an emotional crutch. Emotional overeating doesn’t solve problems because food can never replace positive emotions and good mental health.
IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED ONE ARE CONSIDERING CAREGIVERS IN INDIAN TRAIL, NC, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT GOLDEN HEART SENIOR CARE OF CHARLOTTE. (704) 246-5806.