Emotional eating is an unhealthy habit that can jeopardize the overall health of yourself and your family. Especially for those trying to lose or maintain weight, emotional eating can pose a serious problem for attaining your goal. Understanding the cause can help break this bad habit and start allowing you to make healthier choices that help decrease anxiety.
Feeding your Emotions
Food is more than just a main source of nourishment. Food brings us together during celebrations, holidays and other special occasions. We eat because we enjoy the taste and comfort that food brings us. Turning for food as a stress reliever, however, cannot fix the problem and usually leaves you feeling worse and even guilty afterwards. How can you recognize if you or someone you know is an emotional eater? Listed below are some of the signs:
- Do you eat when you’re not hungry?
- Do you eat to calm yourself when you’re anxious or upset?
- Do you feel out of control around food?
- Do you eat when you're stressed?
Emotional Hunger vs Physical Hunger
There are also distinguishable differences between emotional hunger and physical hunger that can help you identify emotional eating. Emotional hunger can come on very suddenly with the need for instant satisfaction. You also tend to crave particular types of comfort food that does not satisfy you even with a full stomach. Ultimately, emotional eating leaves you feeling embarrassed and powerless.
There are many causes to emotional eating including stress, boredom, anger or even feeling celebratory. Once you understand what causes you to turn to food, you can take the necessary steps to prevent emotional eating. Here are some tips on helping you get on track:
- Keeping a food diary: Write down the moment you are inclined to emotionally eat. Write down how you feel and the food you want to eat. This can help identify when and why you have an emotional trigger.
- Find other healthy ways to feed your feelings: Revert to other things you like when you have an emotional trigger. Call up a friend to catch up, or take a long bath to relax. Go for a run or take your dog on a long walk and focus that energy on something that will make you feel better afterwards.
- Take 5: When you get the feeling to reach for a bag of chips or a pint of ice cream, take a minute and reflect on why you want to feed your emotions. Do not suppress your emotion by reverting to food, but try to understand and accept your feelings.
Do not let food control you when battling certain emotions. Rather than feel powerless, really focus on what it is that is causing you to emotionally eat, and then use that energy to make a healthier life choices.