women 4 hope

Dedicated to addressing women’s issues.

Are You An Emotional Eater?

Posted by Catherine Morgan on April 27, 2009

Understanding why we overeat is an important step on the road to making healthy food choices.  And for many of us, our unhealthy emotions are contributing to our unhealthy eating.

It’s called being an emotional eater.  Are you one of them?  I can admit…I am. I think if we are being honest with ourselves, we all do this to some degree. And in small doses, emotional eating isn’t so bad. But many of us have gone way beyond minor emotional eating. Many of us are using food to avoid dealing with our true feelings…and not only doesn’t it work, but it also compounds are troubles with feelings of guilt and anger toward ourselves.

This is from the Mayo Clinic – The Connection Between Mood and Food

Major life events — such as unemployment, health problems and divorce — and daily life hassles — such as a stressful work commute, bad weather and changes in your normal routine — can trigger emotions that lead to overeating. But why do negative emotions lead to overeating?

Some foods may have seemingly addictive qualities. For example, when you eat enticing foods, such as chocolate, your body releases trace amounts of mood- and satisfaction-elevating hormones. That “reward” may reinforce a preference for foods that are most closely associated with specific feelings. Related to this is the simple fact that the pleasure of eating offsets negative emotions.

Food can also be a distraction. If you’re worried about an upcoming event or rethinking an earlier conflict, eating comfort foods may distract you. But the distraction is only temporary. While you’re eating, your thoughts focus on the pleasant taste of your comfort food. Unfortunately, when you’re done overeating, your attention returns to your worries, and you may now bear the additional burden of guilt about overeating.

Here Diet.com address the 12 Types of Emotional Eaters

You might already know you’re an emotional eater. Or you might not be sure and you may need a little bit more information to decide.

The first step is to find out if you are emotionally hungry.

Below are the 12 types of emotional hunger that trigger Emotional Eating. As you read through the list, ask yourself how many of these apply to you and your life.

If you use food in any of the ways listed below, you’ll know that Emotional Eating is the real reason you struggle with your weight.

Many women have blogged about their struggles with emotional eating.  Are you one of them?

Jessica Manning wrote about enduring emotional eating

Have you ever dreamt of overcoming emotional eating by dieting even while knowing that it is not about self-control? Perhaps not, since it is not the thing that ends quenched. Well, emotional hunger is a tasty problem eating in reaction to an emotional trigger. We have all come across such people who make an attempt to manage mood swings with food.

Emotional eating is not about weight; it’s about the whys behind it and it is a very common consequence which clarifies that it is not due to actual hunger. hard to control. As I said, it develops as a problem only when the person resorts to regulating mood swings through eating.

Leah talks about crossing the threshold of emotional eating

From the very first day on my raw journey, I have struggled with emotional eating. Taking away all of the cooked foods and SAD delights left me emotionally exposed. The longer periods of time I stayed raw, the more buried emotions surfaced.

Mary from Merry Mary is exploring her problems with emotional eating

I didn’t – and still don’t – want to do this. I’ve put it off and pushed it away acting like I don’t have a problem. I don’t want to talk about how my emotions and other issues relate to my eating habits… but I need to. I wish I could just exercise away all my extra weight and forget about the reasons why I reached this weight in the first place.

But its not that simple.

Exercise makes me happier to a certain point. It gets all those good chemicals running in my brain but it doesn’t solve the deeply rooted issues that lead me to overeat. I have to do that myself by spending time with the messy, broken parts of my life. I have to explore them and try to find ways to heal those parts.

Laurie also admits to being an emotional eater

Don’t get me wrong I am so proud of my friends and the commitment that they’ve made. It’s just makes me pay more attention to what I put in my body. Talk about a drag. 😉

I’m not one to give up things I love all together ‘cuz I am an emotional eater and icing brings me great joy. However, I have found a couple things the past month that are good substitutions. Such as:

Once you realize you are emotionally eating, you need to begin to recognize true hunger

A key factor in breaking the pattern of emotional eating is to recognize emotional eating for what it is and physical hunger for what it feels like. Physical hunger is characterized by the same physical cues that you have experienced before. It occurs gradually and sometimes involves a growling stomach. When you are truly hungry, you can usually be satisfied with healthy foods and stop eating when your stomach feels full. On the other hand, emotional eating can come on suddenly and typically demands foods that you would look forward to eating. Too, emotional eating doesn’t necessarily register a full stomach as a cue to stop. This can often lead to overeating, feelings of guilt, and a continuum of the vicious cycle.

A good way to reacquaint yourself with physical hunger is by keeping an eating journal. Every day for one month, keep track of everything you eat and when you eat it. Each time you put something in your mouth, write down any accompanying feelings, such as anger, anxiety, or loneliness, then rate how hungry you are on a scale of one to 10. An eating journal can help you identify patterns that connect your eating behaviours to specific feelings and triggers.

From That’s Fit – End Emotional Eating

There are a lot of reasons people overeat, and more often than not, hunger isn’t one of them. Do you eat because you crave a taste or texture, or because you’re bored or upset? If you’re taking your hunger cues from your brain or your taste buds, rather than your stomach, it’s really easy to overeat.

Any emotional eater knows that it’s a lot harder to control this kind of overeating than typical cravings, but it’s not impossible. If you recognize one of the emotions below as a trigger for overeating, try some of these tips from AOL Health to get your emotional eating under control:

Do you overeat?  Does your mood play a role in your overeating?  If so, what emotion is triggering your emotional eating?  Is it stress over money, your marriage, your job?  Is it anger?  Depression?  Frustration?  Boredom?  I hope you’ll take a moment to share your experience in comments, or if you’ve blogged about it leave a link.  This is the kind of thing that can be helpful to share (not just for yourself, but also for others reading who might find comfort in knowing they are not alone).

Also See:

Curb Emotional Eating With Yoga

Keep Healthy Foods In The House At All Times

De Stress and Weight Less

I Stress; Therefore I’m FAT

How To Stop Eating Emotionally

If you want to stop emotional eating, you need to be honest with yourself. To stop emotional eating, you must identify what you’re really feeling and deal with your feelings differently. All the weight loss tips in the world won’t help you stop eating emotionally unless you know why you’re compelled to eat mindlessly.

Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
at Catherine-Morgan.com and Women4Hope


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