What is Emotional Eating?

If you ever make some room for eating something even after you are full or when you are feeling low, then you are probably struck with an emotional situation. Emotional eating is using food to make you feel better rather than filling your stomach. Using food to reward any celebratory moment is a not a bad thing. When you are eating to cope with all the emotional disturbances, it might be termed as emotional eating.

When your first thought is to open the refrigerator and eat dollops of food when you are bored, stressed as well as exhausted is the first step towards emotional eating and you will be stuck in an unhealthy cycle without never really addressing it. Emotional hunger will never make you full even if you eat a lot and the feelings will be triggered even if high calorie food is consumed. You make yourself suffer and will not have the willpower in fighting things or stressful events.

By compounding the issues you will not be able to control your diet despite realizing that it is an unhealthy means. You will also feel powerless and will not have the strength to control your food cravings as well as the feelings.

Emotional Over Eating and Regain Healthy Weight

Emotional Craving for Food Vs. Physical Hunger

The primary factor that has to be recognized when you are stuck with emotional eating is to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger. It may sound trickier to you if you use food for dealing with the feelings. Emotional hunger can be influential. As a result, it can be easily mistaken for physical hunger. Nevertheless, there are certain clues that will help you in understanding what the right thing to do is.

  1. Emotional hunger hits your body instantly. This type of hunger hits you in an instant as well as often feels urgent and overwhelming. Physical hunger on the contrary comes gradually and does not demand sudden satisfaction.
  2. Emotional hunger yearns for certain comfort foods. When hunger strikes you physically, you will confide in any healthy meal like vegetables. But when you are hungry emotionally, you often crave for unhealthy things like a pizza or cheesecake, for getting an instant relief or satisfaction.
  3. Emotional hunger is associated with dull eating habits. Prior to actually realizing what you have consumed, you might have finished eating it without enjoying the meal's every bite. On the contrary, when you are eating while you are physically hungry, you actually know what you are eating.
  4. Emotional hunger does not curb even when you are feeling full. You keep on craving for eating more and continue to eat until you are stuffed. Physical hunger does not demand such things as you only eat satisfactorily.
  5. Emotional hunger is not situated in the stomach. Emotional hunger is a state of mind that is not associated with a growling stomach or physical hunger.
  6. Emotional hunger directs to guilt, shame, or regret. When you eat satisfactorily, you might never feel guilty or ashamed. However, when you consume haphazardly, you are aware deep down that you did not eat for nutritional reasons.

Link between Mood, Food and Weight

Emotional eating is often associated with negative emotions like fear, stress, anger and boredom which are a result of loneliness. Both the hassles as well as various stressful events can trigger negative emotions and interrupt the weight loss efforts. These may even include:

  • Relationship struggle
  • Stress at work
  • Weakness and weariness
  • When you are Jobless
  • Economic pressure
  • Health issues

While there are some people who actually eat less when they are subjected to various strong emotions, there are some who often binge at all times. In fact, you tie your emotions to binge eating, which deprives you from thinking about the stuff that you are actually eating.

Food also renders calmness in distress. When you are stressed or stewing on a conflict, you may rely on the comfort food for getting rid of painful thoughts. Whatever might be the emotions that are driving you to eat the food; the result will always be the same. This can also lead to an unhealthy binge cycle that can trigger various other symptoms in your brain. This is the later stages might become too difficult to handle as well. When you are sad you will overeat until you feel like bloating on the food that you have consumed.

Tips to Stop Emotional Over Eating and Regain Healthy Weight:

There is no doubt that the emotional imbalances can compel you to eat a lot, but with a conscious mind you can easily overcome it and concentrate on losing some weight. Try the following steps for keeping your head straight and staying away from imbalances:

  1. Domesticate your stress by concentrating on mind relaxing exercises. This may include meditation, yoga or doing some tasks for managing the stress level.
  2. Get a reality check done when in need. Try to identify the actual cause of being hungry, whether it is emotional or physical. If you are craving for some food, wait for it to pass.
  3. Maintain a diary to note down the things that you eat when you are hungry or the time when you craved toe at something. This will help you in connecting dots and control your mind, the next time you start eating.
  4. Join a support group for getting a complete understanding and gaining a backup during distress. When in need, lean on friends and family for getting a solution.
  5. Learn to distract yourself when you are struck with boredom. Watch your favorite movie, go for a long drive with a friend or take a walk while you speak to your friend.
  6. Get rid of all the temptations. Get an emotional check done by excusing yourself from a stressful situation. When angry, postpone the things that are tempting such as grocery shopping until you have your emotions under control.
  7. Enjoy the occasion and never be too hard on yourself. If you are on a weight loss program, never indulge in cutting down the calorie consumption to a bare minimum. Go out for an occasional treat and eat until you are satisfactorily full. If you deprive yourself from doing so, it may trigger the unhealthy eating habits.
  8. Consume healthy snacks. Rather than dipping your tongue in a pot full of cheese, eat a meal that has taste as well as a sufficient amount of calories.
  9. Try to learn from the experiences that you have written in your diary. This way, you tend to be conscious the next time you are struck with an emotional episode.

When to Plan a Visit to the Doctor?

It is necessary to try some self help techniques before you actually run to any professionals for help. However, if you find that they are doing less good for you, rely on a therapist. A continuous therapy is essential when you are learning to cope with the emotional binge eating. You might also discover something that can be practiced in the long run for setting back the emotional events. This can, however, only be possible if you consider being a part of any therapy.

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Last Modified On: August 3, 2015

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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