Are you an emotional eater?
Many people are and it’s self-destructive
You must learn to recognize emotional eating and change how you handle stress.
Your health depends on it.
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Have you ever stuck to a healthy meal plan all week, only to hit the snacks or junk food after an exhausting day? When something goes wrong in your life or you feel somewhat stressed, is your automatic response to drown your sorrows in a bowl of ice cream?
If you use food as a way to soothe yourself or to help you cope with stress and emotions, then you’re emotional eating. This destructive behavioral pattern keeps you stacking on weight if you don’t break the cycle quickly.
What you need to understand about emotional eating
Emotional eating is also known as stress eating. It’s relying on food to change how you feel and make yourself feel better. You’re eating not to satisfy physical hunger but to fill the empty void created by emotional needs.
It’s a habit, a pattern of behavior that recurs again and again in your life. It leads to a number of health problems, including weight gain.
It’s perfectly okay to treat yourself to a little reward now and then or to celebrate with food occasionally. But emotional eating goes far beyond that and involves the use of food as your primary coping strategy for dealing with your emotions.
When you’re experiencing strong emotions, you’re bored, stressed, or lonely, is your first instinct to reach for food? Do you only eat unhealthy foods or make poor food choices when you are emotionally charged? This is emotional eating.
What many do not seem to grasp about this habit is that no amount of junk food or poor food choices will actually fill the void left from these emotions. You don’t actually learn to deal with these emotions when you are an emotional eater. It doesn’t help you at all. How can it? You just learn to eat more.
Of course it feels good at the moment to eat and mask your feelings, but that cover will soon wear off. You’ll end up eating more and more to try and cover it up again. You’ll just be consuming large amounts of calories from unhealthy sources. Emotional eating at some point will end up destroying your health.
Emotional eating is more common and widespread than most people realize. People who engage in this kind of behavior do it secretively because they’re ashamed of their behavior. But there’s hope for people who have self-destructive behaviors that involve emotional eating.
You can learn to make positive changes in how you deal with your emotions, you can become more mindful of what you are eating, and you can regain control of your eating habits to focus on satisfying physical hunger while addressing your emotional needs in other ways.
What are some indications you’re engaging in Emotional Eating?
Maybe you’re uncertain if you’re using emotional eating as a coping strategy?
Try answering these questions honestly.
- When you’re stressed, are you more likely to eat more than if you’re not stressed?
- How often do you find yourself eating when you’re already full or not really hungry?
- Do you use food as a reward for something?
- Do you associate food with safety or security?
- When you’re upset, mad, anxious, or bored, how do you make yourself feel better?
- Do you often overeat to the point of being uncomfortable?
- Do you sometimes feel like you have no control over food or how much you eat?
Honest answers to these questions can help you determine if you’re an emotional eater. If you are, then learning the signs of emotional eating as well as mindfulness techniques to help you focus on your eating habits can help.
Not just becoming more aware of your eating habits and patterns, but also learning to deal more effectively with your emotions. This will help you to end the self-destructive practice of emotional eating. Find ways to bring pleasure and joy into your life that don’t involve food.
Learning to distinguish between emotional hunger and physical hunger takes time. Once you’re clear on that and can tell these two apart, you can start to make better food choices and end the destructive pattern of emotional eating.