How to know if you are an Emotional Eater

How do you know if you’re eating for emotional reasons?
Have you labeled yourself as an Emotional Eater?

It is common to hear people describe themselves as an “emotional eater”. It is no wonder since we have been taught that food can “soothe a mood”. The term “comfort food”. is proof. How many times have you watched a movie where the main actress is shown shoveling scoops of Ben & Jerry’s straight out of the pint can help dull the ache of a breakup. These “comfort foods” preys upon our inability to say “no thanks” when we seek a reward or feel stressed. I found this out after I gave up alcohol nearly 700 days ago. Food began to replace alcohol until I became aware of it.

When we use food to appease our moods, it sets us up for a vicious cycle of possible weight gain, followed by shame & guilt, followed by more emotional eating and can lead to depression.

If you struggle with this, I can assure you that you can and you will stop this cycle if you learn a few simple tools.

First, let’s find out if you are an emotional eater?

Do you eat between meals even when you’re not physically hungry?

• If you eat between meals, are you eating on auto-pilot — i.e., mindlessly and without complete awareness and attention to what you’re actually doing?
• When something upsetting happens, do you reach for the nearest bag of cookies to make yourself feel better?
• Do you fantasize about foods that are your special “treats” such as chocolate cake or kettle chips?
• When you eat these treats, do you hide out and eat them by yourself because you’re embarrassed to eat them in front of others?

The key to change is finding the ROOT of the problem.

• Three of the Emotional States That Lead to Emotional Eating •

Some people eat to celebrate (hello, birthday cake), to quell boredom (think mindless snacking while binge-watching a Netflix Series), to reward themselves (“I went to the gym for an hour Monday-Friday, so I deserve to eat a fully-loaded cheeseburger and cheese fries!”), but when it comes to patterns of emotional eating, I see them stem most from sadness, anxiety, or anger.

– Healthy alternatives to sad emotional eating:

1. Express yourself: Your melancholy mood was probably caused by an upsetting incident. Get it off your chest by talking about it with someone you trust. If nobody is available to talk, try writing down your feelings.

2. Move: Battle the blues by moving your body and getting your heart pumping. Even doing 30 minutes of moderate exercise can boost the “feel-good” chemicals in your brain.

3. Give yourself permission to let it out: Light some candles, take a hot bath, listen to sad music, cry until you run out of tears. Allowing yourself to feel sad will help you process. Or, put on headphones, turn up the music, and dance, or punch pillows… pick a constructive way to emote that’s not eating.

– Healthy alternatives to anxiety/stress emotional eating:

1. Stick to a regular, healthy sleep routine. If you’re not sleeping well because you’re stressed, the lack of sleep can result in poor food choices. Research shows that people who got insufficient sleep for several consecutive nights increased food intake to keep them going. When they returned to getting adequate rest, they stopped eating as much — particularly carbs and fats.

2. Do something relaxing and calming. We all have different ways of relaxing. The next time you feel stressed and anxious and instinctively turn to food, resist the urge to run to the cupboard or fridge, and instead practice a relaxing activity. Consider trying meditation, yoga, or even just pause for a moment to take some deep breaths.

– Healthy alternatives to angry emotional eating

One way to get out of the angry eating trap is to delay eating — even 10 minutes will do — and to sit down, take a deep breath, and tune into what you’re really feeling. Ask yourself the following questions and patiently work your way through the answers.

What happened today that may have made me angry?
Why did that event stir up angry feelings?
What do I need to do in order to let go of this anger and feel peaceful?

For help when it comes to controlling your eating habits and in building a healthy relationship and understanding of food, please reach out to me at Let’s connect via Facebook or Instagram.

For more information about food addiction, follow this link.

2 Replies to “How to know if you are an Emotional Eater”

  1. Whew!!! I know I’m an emotional eater! I feel like I have been for forever. This is great information on how I can help my emotions and control my eating.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it and found it helpful!

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