Archive for the tag - emotions

Are You Eating Your Emotions?

When my boyfriend moved back to Canada last Sunday, I suffered some heartache. And without much of anything to distract me, I quickly found myself craving – and reaching for – chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. As I dug my spoon into the container, I quickly realized that I was feeding my feelings more than my stomach. It’s called in “emotional eating” – and I’m not alone; experts estimate that 75% of overeating is caused by emotional eating.

Emotional eating is the practice of consuming food (usually “comfort” or junk foods) in response to emotional feelings rather than hunger. Emotional eaters use eating as a main strategy to manage their emotions, both negative and positive. It’s dangerous and addictive.

But are you an emotional eater? Here are a few signs:

  1. You’re eating and you’re not hungry. Emotional eaters are filling an emotional void, not an empty stomach.
  2. You’re craving a specific food. When you’re hungry, any number of options will satisfy that hunger. When you’re an emotional eater, you desire one specific food.
  3. You have an intense urge to satisfy your craving instantly.
  4. You turn to foods like ice cream, chocolate or other unhealthy comfort foods.
  5. You know that you are full and you continue to eat.
  6. After you eat, you have feelings of guilt.

The first step in treating emotional eating is recognizing it. Once recognized, there are a few steps that all of us can take to nip this unhealthy habit in the butt:

  1. Replace the food with something else. Instead of reaching for Ben & Jerry’s, go for a walk or a jog. Call a friend. Do housework. Or even take a nap!
  2. If you find yourself unable to replace eating with another activity, at least replace the food type. Instead of eating pizza or junk food, try consuming celery or carrot sticks.
  3. Know that you don’t need to eliminate junk food from your diet entirely. Instead, recognize that junk food isn’t a healthy way to cope with emotions. You can occasionally indulge for the right reasons. I recommend the 80/20 rule as a general nutrition guideline – eat healthy 80% of the time.
  4. Instead of eating the entire cake, try taking just a few bites. Brian Wansink, PhD, director of the Food and Brand Lab at the University of Illinois, states: “Your memory of a food peaks after about four bites, so if you only have those bites, a week later you’ll recall it as just a good experience than if you polished off the whole thing.”

Eating your emotions is a habit that can be broken. It might take some extra help; if you’re overwhelmed by your food addiction, I strongly recommend that you seek professional help.

Are you an emotional eater? If so, what foods do you turn to?