The topic of emotional eating hits home for so many people. It’s very common, so don’t feel ashamed if this is a problem for you. It is important to not beat yourself up over anything while you are working on making improvements.
Emotional hunger is different from physical hunger, but it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two. Emotional hunger can cause these symptoms:
• Feelings of pain in the heart
• Feeling that something in your life is missing
• Feeling of needing comfort
• Needing to fill a void in your life
This is different from physical hunger, which commonly feels like:
• Emptiness in the stomach
• Lack of energy
• Grumbling noises
It is important to ask yourself before you eat whether you feel physically hungry. If you realize you aren’t, you need to figure out what it is you are actually feeling that is causing you to want food. Here are some feelings that can cause people to want food: sadness, anger, confusion, fear, depression, boredom, disappointment, upset, moodiness, irritation, feeling unsure, bothered, perplexed, procrastination, stress.
The process of eating is supposed to be enjoyable, but eating in order to cope with an emotion or fix something in your life is not going to work. Food may comfort you for the short-term, distract you from the pain, or even numb you with a food hangover, but when you are done eating not only is the root problem still there, but now you probably feel guilty for eating all the food. Each emotion or problem has a solution.
If you have used food to cope with emotions, it is important to recognize this and to be gentle with yourself. Let go of any guilt or shame you feel or have felt about turning to food for happiness. Dieting is another thing that leads to emotional eating-dieting messes with your emotions, so not only do you binge from the overpowering biological drive to eat, but you eat to comfort yourself from the pain of dieting!
Here are 3 ways to work towards overcoming emotional eating:
1) Ask yourself: Am I physically hungry? If the answer is yes, then ask yourself what you want to eat, and allow yourself to eat! Honor your hunger and fullness. Eat until you are full and know that you nourished your body. If the answer is no, then go to step 2:
2) Ask yourself: What am I feeling right now? When you realize you are not biologically hungry, take a time-out instead of reaching for food and look deep to see what you are really feeling. This may not be an easy question to answer, especially if you are out of touch with your emotions. However, if you know that you aren’t physically hungry and that you are turning to food for another reason, this is a great place to start! Pat yourself on the back for being aware that there is another reason you want food.
3) Ask yourself: What do I need? Many people eat to fulfill some unmet need. If you figure out the emotions you are experiencing, try to figure out what you can do other than eat that actually addresses the problem at hand.
Emotional eating can be a dangerous thing if it gets out of hand. Not only does it lead to weight gain, but it can cause you to become sick and avoid the emotions that are causing you to turn to food.