Emotional eating is turning to food for comfort, stress relief, or as a reward rather than to satisfy hunger. Most emotional eaters feel powerless over their food cravings. When the urge to eat hits, it’s all you can think about.
Understanding emotional eating
If you’ve ever made room for dessert even though you’re already full or dove into a bucket of ice cream when you’re feeling down, you’ve experienced emotional eating. Emotional eating is using food to make yourself feel better—eating to fill emotional needs, rather than to fill your stomach.
Using food from time to time as a pick me up, a reward, or to celebrate isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But when eating is your primary emotional coping mechanism—when your first impulse is to open the fridge whenever you’re upset, angry, lonely, stressed, exhausted, or bored—you get stuck in an unhealthy cycle where the real feeling or problem is never addressed.
Emotional hunger can’t be filled with food. Eating may feel good in the moment, but the feelings that triggered the eating are still there. And you often feel worse than you did before because of the unnecessary calories you consumed. You feel guilty for messing up and not having more willpower. Compounding the problem, you stop learning healthier ways to deal with your emotions, you have a harder and harder time controlling your weight, and you feel increasingly powerless over both food and your feelings.
How do I know if I am an emotional eater?
Ask yourself these questions..
Do you eat more when you’re feeling stressed?
Do you eat when you’re not hungry or when you’re full?
Do you eat to feel better (to make yourself feel better when you’re sad, mad, bored, anxious, etc)?
Do you reward yourself with food?
Do you regularly eat until you’ve stuffed yourself?
Does food make you feel safe? Do you feel like food is a friend?
Do you feel powerless or out of control around food?
If you answered yes to all or most of these questions then you are an emotional eater, but hey, its not the end of the world to solve these problems all we have to do is identify what triggers our eating and learn the difference between emotional hunger and real hunger.
What factors can lead us to emotional eating?
Stress – Ever notice how stress makes you hungry?
Cortisol triggers cravings for salty, sweet, and high-fat foods—foods that give you a burst of energy and pleasure. The more uncontrolled stress in your life, the more likely you are to turn to food for emotional relief
Eating can be a way to temporarily silence or “stuff down” uncomfortable emotions, including anger, fear, sadness, anxiety, loneliness, resentment, and shame. While you’re numbing yourself with food, you can avoid the emotions you’d rather not feel.
Boredom or feelings of emptiness
Do you ever eat simply to give yourself something to do, to relieve boredom, how many times do you open the fridge and cupboard doors when your bored. You feel unfulfilled and empty, and food is a way to occupy your mouth and your time. In the moment, it fills you up and distracts you from feeling like you have nothing to do.
Getting together with other people for a meal is a great way to relieve stress, but it can also lead to overeating. It’s easy to overindulge simply because the food is there or because everyone else is eating. You may also overeat in social situations out of nervousness. Or perhaps your family or circle of friends encourages you to overeat, and it’s easier to go along with the group.
If you start to notice your eating behaviours stop and ask yourself am I eating emotionally or am I really hungry. This way you can prevent the bad eating habits and start fuelling your body with the correct foods it needs at the right time.
Thanks for reading guys!
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