Emotional Eating: Understanding Your Emotional Style


Emotional eating can lead to yucky feelings or negative emotions which just seem to imbue our lives. But by training our brains through neuroplasticity, understanding our emotional style and getting support to break out of isolation, there is hope for deep, meaningful change and beginning to live life instead of just “weighting”.

Happily, I discovered a new book by Richard Davidson, The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How its unique patterns affect the way you think, feel and live—and how you can change them (Penguin Publishing Group, 2012).

Dr. Davidson writes:

Each of us is unique in our emotional make-up and this individuality determines why some people are resilient and others vulnerable, why some have high levels of well-being despite objective adversity while others decompensate rapidly in the response to the slightest setback.


He goes on to talk about recognizing that the mechanisms of neuroplasticity were an organizing framework for understanding how emotional styles could be transformed.  He identifies 6 emotional styles:

Resilience: How rapidly or slowly do you recover from adversity?
Outlook: How long does positive emotion persist following a joyful event?
Social Intuition: How accurate are you in detecting the non-verbal social cues of others?
Context: Do you regulate your emotion in a context-sensitive fashion?
Self-Awareness: How aware are you of your own bodily signals that constitute emotion?
Attention: How focused or scattered is your attention?


What is exciting about Dr. Richardson’s (and many others) work is that there is science which supports the possibility of changing our brains and emotions. The practice of meditation is the primary tool. Meditation is a powerful practice which can heal your body, mind and spirit.


How have you used meditation in your life?


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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

Marsha has been a guiding force at Green Mountain at Fox Run since 1986. In addition to overseeing a professional program that helps women establish sustainable approaches to healthy living, she is a respected thought leader when it comes to managing eating, emotions and weight. She has been a voice of reason for the last three decades in helping people move away from diets, an area in which she is personally as well as professionally versed. An accomplished writer and speaker, Marsha is the author of six books, including the online course Disordered Eating in Active and Sedentary Individuals (co-authored by Karin Kratina, PhD, RD, Human Kinetics), What You Need to Know about Carbohydrates (Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics [The Academy]), What You Need to Know about Vitamin and Mineral Supplements (The Academy), and The Pregnancy Cookbook (co-authored by Donna Shields, RD, Berkeley Publishing). She has worked extensively on a national basis to educate the public about nutrition and the impact of dieting on eating behaviors, including binge eating and emotional eating. Active in many organizations helping to further the cause of health and wellness, Marsha currently serves as vice chair of the Binge Eating Disorder Association and vice president of The Center for Mindful Eating and has been active in the Association for Size Diversity and Health in support of Health at Every Size(R) principles.

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