Emotional Eating


emo-eatingBy: Nikki Nies

Alright, I admit I’m an emotional person.  People always say they can tell what I’m thinking with my facial expressions.  Scary, I know! However, I know I’m not alone with this classification.  We all know we don’t necessarily “choose” where we land on the  emotion scale, yet as the old saying goes, we can control our response to situations, issues and/or problems.  With that said, being  emotional tends to have a negative connotation.  When one gets emotional and there’s food around to comfort, that can turn into a scary, vicious cycle.

As someone who gravitates to the ice cream and cookies for comfort, I’m not stranger to seeking comfort for my array of emotions.  Still, it doesn’t have to be that way.  This brings us to the concept of emotional eating.  It can be hard to identify emotional eating as we have to eat for sustenance.  Realistically, many people turn to food as an escape, a source of comfort from stress, worries and/or use as a reward.

Have you ever indulged in a carton of ice cream or splurged at the nearest drive thru?  While every situation is different, if you find yourself feeling guilty for what you’ve eaten and/or overly stuffed, you may find that at times you eat as a way to deal with emotions, not only due to hunger.

As with any issue one wants to combat, recognizing the struggle with certain foods is an important vital step.  When food has become a coping mechanism that can become a cause for concern.

How to recognize the difference between physical and emotional hunger:  

  • Hunger often occurs gradually, emotional eating tends to occur suddenly
  • When you’re eating to  fill a void with a particular food, specifically ice cream or pizza, and only that specific food will meet your needs. When you eat for hunger, you’re more open to options.  With emotional foods, people tend to eat foods that they consider “comforting” to maintain a certain feeling
  • Emotional hunger persuades you that it has to be dealt with instantly, while real hunger can wait
  • Even when your body tells you you’re full, you continue to eat to curb feelings and/or emotions with emotional eating
  • With emotional eating it often times leads to guilty while physical hunger does not
  • When eating becomes the only way to manage emotions and those foods tends to be unhealthy (i.e. chips, pizza, cookies, steak, chocolate), that can be indicative of of emotional eating

Yes, life is not a sprint, but a marathon. That means that small changes can and will make a difference.  As long as I’m headed in the right direction, with each day better than the last, then I can be content with where I am.  It’s important to note that incorporating small changes are more likely to shape long term success!

Photo Credit: Soza Clinic 

Sources: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20047342

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/emotional-eating-feeding-your-feelings

http://www.medicinenet.com/emotional_eating/article.htm

http://www.foh.hhs.gov/calendar/morematters.html

http://www.mindlesseating.org/pdf/downloads/ComfortFood-P%26B_2003.pdf

http://psychologytoday.tests.psychtests.com/take_test.php?idRegTest=1599

http://www.helpguide.org/life/emotional_eating_stress_cravings.htm

http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/205475/err62_1_.pdf

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