When you’re happy, your food of choice could be steak or pizza, when you’re sad it could be ice cream or cookies, and when you’re bored it could be potato chips. Sound familiar? Food does more than fill our stomachs — it also satisfies feelings, and when you quench those feelings with comfort food when your stomach isn’t growling, that’s emotional eating.What are the telltale signs of emotional eating? And how it can be overcome?
How To Tell If You’re An Emotional Eater
1. If you’re eating, but not hungry
Emotional eating is when one eats for reasons other than actual hunger. Emotions dictate eating instead of the internal cues designed to guide us to eating when we’re hungry and stopping when we’re full.
And this is so scary because mindless and emotional eating can result in excess weight and a host of health-related issues such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol. Beyond the physical health risks, overweight individuals can also suffer from depression and isolation, only perpetuating the cycle of emotional eating.
If you’re eating because you’re bored or plan food around TV shows or other activities (and not for nutritional purposes), you’re likely emotional eating. Certain foods and meals make you feel happy if you’ve had a hard day or feel restless, but you should really only eat if you’re hungry—not to make yourself feel better.
Emotional eating can cause you to consume extra calories mindlessly from fat and sugar—these are the foods that make you feel good. Also, if you don’t pay attention to the volume of what you eat, it can cause you to eat way more calories than you should. Hello, weight gain!
3. If you’re anxious or stressed.
Anxiety and stress tend to translate into emotional eating. Work, family, and money stress, along with lack of sleep don’t help the situation either. It can be a dangerous combination for those who have problems controlling what they eat because feelings and food are intimately related. The key to controlling your emotional eating is to figure out what sparks you to dive into the chocolate chip cookies and potato chips, mindlessly munching without even realizing you’re eating until the bag is then empty.
By pinpointing the sources of your anxiety, you can better control your tendency to mindlessly overeat.
How To Stop Yourself Before It’s Too Late
1. So Are You Hungry?
You can tell you’re eating emotionally if your hunger comes on suddenly. Physical hunger occurs gradually. Emotional hunger feels like it needs to be satisfied instantly with the food you crave; physical hunger can wait until you know exactly what you have a taste for.
2. Fight emotional eating!
You can stop emotional eating by stripping away outside influences. So you know those fad diets you keep trying or meaning to try—don’t even start those. They only leave you feeling deprived and longing to satisfy your cravings. Instead, get back in touch with your own desires, preferences, palate, heritage, genetics, traditions, lifestyle, and uniqueness.
3. Positive self-image is where it’s at
And finally, you have to love yourself. A truly successful approach [to stop emotional eating] is one that deals with an individual’s self-image, as well as the underlying emotional needs that cause overeating. Begin by rediscovering your inner beauty with which you were created, and you will make a major stride toward successful weight loss and other avenues of self-improvement. Ultimately, emotional eating can only be overcome when we heal by getting to know and love the self we are already in.