Feeling low accompanied by
swaying emotions, dwindling energy levels tends to increase craving for food. Eating
for the sake of your feelings instead of your hunger is emotional eating - Not hungry, yet you eat because you FEEL like eating. While indulging in emotional
eating, a person's emotions decide on when and how much the person eats. Emotional
eating results in overeating, people binge on junk food and their favorite food
items. Specialists point out that 75% of overeating happens as a result of
Food can bring comfort and relief
to a person's emotions temporarily; therefore a lot of people either
consciously or subconsciously turn to food to mend emotional problems. Negative
feelings like depression, stress, solitude, anxiety, anger, problematic
relationships, annoyance, monotony can lead to overeating and thus unnecessary
weight gain. Analyzing the triggers that lead to emotional eating can replace overeating
with better and fitter options.
Women are more prone to emotional eating. Emotional eating is a defense mechanism, understanding the disorder is very
important and crucial. Only when a person understands emotional eating can that
person get over and recover from the same.
Identifying emotional eating disorder
- Physiological hunger comes about slowly but emotional
hunger sets in all of a sudden.
- Emotional hunger is not time oriented; people feel
hungry anytime and every time whereas in physiological hunger a person
will feel hungry only at a stipulated time interval.
- Physiological hunger doesn't demand for instantaneous
fulfillment whereas emotional hunger seeks instantaneous fulfillment.
- When a person is hungry physiologically, he/she will
not demand for specific food whereas emotional hunger is usually satiated
with foods like pizza, ice cream, etc because you eat to satisfy your
emotions and not to satisfy an empty stomach.
- People who eat for the sake of emotional eating may
feel guilty after they eat as they eat a lot to satisfy the emotional
craving whereas when you eat to satisfy your physiological hunger you will
not experience the same guilt pangs.
If you are yet unable to differentiate emotional and physiological hunger, try this.
- Do not eat until your stomach growls and you feel
light headed with hunger. When you experience this you are physiologically
hungry and not emotionally hungry.
Remember you are not alone; there are scores of people who feel this way. Join a group like Food Addicts
Anonymous. They can advice you on how to overcome emotional eating disorder. To
stop emotional eating, you should learn techniques to overcome emotional
When do emotional eaters overeat?
Most emotional eaters overeat when they are depressed or confused; few others eat to stop thinking about
their problems. Most of the emotional eaters prefer to eat high-fat and
high-calorie food when they are stressed. None of the emotional eaters eat
healthy food like salads and other healthy stuff. Relief is sought from food
that is high in calorie, fat, sugar or salt.
Why do emotional eaters overeat?
People tend to get addicted towards certain kinds of food like chocolate - eating chocolate releases a
hormone that can elevate a person's mood; this will increase the craving for
chocolate and the person will consume more chocolates when he/she is depressed.
Food can also be a source of diversion to the emotional eater but this
diversion is only temporary. This is so because while the food does divert the
mind, your worries begin to haunt you yet again.
Overcome emotional eating
Use this checklist to identify your eating and to overcome emotional eating, if any.
Are you truly hungry - Rate your hunger level and identify if you
are really hungry. Eat only if you are really hungry.
Follow a food guide - A food guide can help you identify if you are
eating right and if you are eating at the right time.
Follow a regular exercise pattern - Exercises can relieve stress
and help you get out of an emotional struggle that might convert you into an
Sleep well - Lack of sleep can increase hunger pangs. Sufficient
sleep will reduce stress and improve eating habits.
Find healthy alternates - Choose healthy alternates instead of over
indulging in food.
Stop Emotional eating
To stop emotional eating, you
should initially identify emotional eating triggers and poor eating habits, though
this by itself is not sufficient to change eating behavior. To stop emotional
eating, learn to develop alternatives to eating. Instead try any of the options
- Eat slowly and stop eating the moment you feel full
and never eat until your stomach demands food.
- Take a bubble bath.
- Talk to a friend.
- Do not eat while you watch television.
- Go for a walk or jog.
- Complete pending housework like gardening, ironing, etc. Indulge in an activity
till the urge to eat settles down.
- Practice deep breathing exercises.
- Do not deprive yourself of your favorite food, eat it occasionally.
- Read a good book or magazine.
- Listen to music.
- Do not eat while you are in your couch or in your bed. Eat only at the dining
table as you tend to eat more if you feel cozy.
- Play a game of your choice; distract your thoughts away from food.
- Relaxation exercises/meditation.
- Attend individual or group counseling.
Practice these alternates;
remember you cannot change emotional eating disorder immediately. Give your
body some time to adapt itself to the new healthy eating schedule.
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