Emotional Eating and Hebb’s Law

Emotional eating is an issue most people face at one time or another. So many people don’t even recognize it, but if you aren’t physically hungry and you are reaching for food, it is emotional eating. If it isn’t physical, it is emotional. Let’s face it, food feels good. It is entertaining. It is soothing. It is comforting. It distracts us from things we would rather avoid. It gives us a sense of control when our lives and emotions feel out of control. Enter Hebb’s Law….Hebb’s Law states surmises that what “fires together, wires together”. Essentially, when we pair behaviors, emotions and consequences (both positive and negative), they fuse together in our brain. This is why it is so difficult to stop the emotional eating process or change behavior in general. Our habits, reactions and experiences are connected in our brains by specific neuron pathways that get strengthened each time we engage in the behavior. This is why we feel so disconnected from the process over time and find ourselves in the middle of eating something before we even realize it. You start doing it on auto pilot. So, if your stress level was a 7 and you started using food to cope, eventually, you’ll seek it out when it is at a 1 or 2 and barely perceptible. This is why we find ourselves looking in the refrigerator or pantry over and over again waiting for something tasty to appear. Your brain has wired that food to the relief you ultimately feel. This is also why just eliminating certain foods doesn’t end your urge to eat them. At least not long-term. By re-wiring those connections, you can successfully stop the mindless eating patterns. How do we do this? Through a combination of EMDR Therapy and skills to reduce the stress response, you can weaken the wired response to emotional eating. If you are interested in learning more, contact me today.


Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Weber State University and a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Utah. She has been working in the mental health field since 2001.

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