What is Emotional Eating?
Emotional Eating is the use of food as a distraction from any feeling, thought, or situation you would prefer to escape.
You have probably developed the habit of using food to self-soothe and seek some relief from the present moments in your life. You may have “food thoughts” to escape the intensity of worrying feelings and thoughts.
People who describe themselves as emotional eaters feel that they cannot control their cravings. Thus, they eat more than needed. As a result, they usually struggle to control their weight.
Characteristics of Emotional Eating
The definition of emotional eating includes some or all of the following features which occur at least 3 times per week:
- Eating faster than usual;
- Continuous eating over the point of fullness;
- Eating when not physically hungry;
- Eating alone or in secret;
- Feeling upset or guilty after overeating;
- Perception that you are abnormal;
- Feeling “taken over” or “driven” as if by another presence in respect of eating;
- Trying to compensate for overeating by dieting or restraining food or purging ( in the latter case you are suffering from bulimia);
This eating disorder affects men and women of all ages. However, women are more likely to ask for support. Probably, this is because of the fact that women are more concerned about the effects of overeating on their appearance.
What triggers you to become an emotional overeater?
Try to ask these questions to yourself.
- Have you recently experienced a painful break-up or a loss of a loved one?
- Have you been feeling stressed at work?
- Are there any unresolved personal matters that are bothering you?
If you answer positively, you are at a high risk of being an emotional eater. Think over the question: Do you eat even when you are not hungry? If you do, the rows below are for you. There are powerful physical and psychological tools that can help you overcome this strong dependence.
How to overcome emotional eating?
Accept the fact that you eat a lot whenever you feel stressed out or emotional. This is the first step in overcoming emotional eating. When you have favored this circumstance, it would be easier for you to make a pause and think before you reach for the next tempting food.
Drink a Glass of Water
Whenever you get disappointed or anxious and feel the urge to bite a big slice of pizza or a bar of chocolate, take a second to think whether you are really hungry. Then drink a glass of water because very often thirst may be confused with hunger.
Breathing can clear your mind of the negative emotions that make you overeat. Here is a simple breathing exercise that you can practice every time you feel overwhelmed. Sit in a comfortable position with your eyes closed and your back straight. Put your hand on your stomach, take deep breaths through your nose and exhale slowly through the mouth. Continue this for at least 3-5 minutes. Your cravings for junk food will dissipate.
Movement and fresh air cope very well with your condition. You do not need strength training to divert your thoughts from unnecessary eating. Some jogging or riding a bicycle will refresh your mind and will direct it to a healthy daily routine.
Divert Your Attention
When you suddenly feel nervous, try to focus your attention on other things than eating. You can listen to your favorite music, read a book, chat with a friend. Just a walk with your children or your dog will make you forget about the strong desire to eat an additional portion. Feel the joy of every small thing around you – the beauty of flowers, the slight breeze, the song of birds.
Treat Yourself with Love
Treat yourself with love, respect, and kindness! The ability to love yourself makes you capable of loving others. As you see yourself, so do the rest. It is your mission to protect your emotional being. If you feel safe and strong, your emotions will be balanced. This will affect your eating habits as well.
Have you been an emotional eater? How have you overcome it? Feel free to share your experience on this topic.