In times of stress, sadness, and anger, it is common to turn to food for comfort. Unfortunately, relying on food for comfort only provides temporary relief and is quickly followed by more negative emotions, such as shame or guilt. This unhealthy cycle can cause emotional eaters to feel powerless when it comes to food, leaving them unable to cope in healthy ways.
What is Emotional Eating?
Emotional eating is the use of food to cope with emotional problems. It can involve eating when you are not hungry, eating too much, or choosing unhealthy foods. Emotional eaters often feel out of control around food and have a difficult time stopping once they start.
To understand emotional eating, it’s important to know how emotional hunger differs from physical hunger. It can be difficult to tell the two apart, but there are key differences in the way someone feels before and after eating.
Physical hunger typically comes on gradually, while emotional hunger can feel very sudden. When someone is physically hungry, usually any food group sounds good, but when someone is emotionally hungry, they’ll crave certain comfort foods that are typically high in fat or sugar.
A person will feel full after feeding physical hunger but might not get this sensation when feeding emotional hunger, leading to overeating. They are also more likely to feel guilt and shame about eating after doing so to cope with negative emotions.
Symptoms of Emotional Eating
Several emotional and physical symptoms can be associated with emotional eating. Emotionally, you may feel like you are using food to cope with your emotions. You may feel guilty or ashamed after eating. You may also feel like you cannot control your eating habits.
Physically, you may notice that you are gaining weight, you have a hard time losing weight, or you are not eating enough. You may also experience stomach pain, headaches, and fatigue.
How to Manage Emotional Eating
There are several things that you can do to manage emotional eating. First, it is important to identify the emotions that trigger your emotional eating. Once you know what triggers your emotional eating, you can begin to address the emotions. Second, you can develop healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with emotional problems. This may involve talking to a friend or family member, journaling, or exercising. Third, you can create a plan for how to deal with emotional eating episodes. This may involve having healthy snacks on hand, avoiding trigger foods, or taking a break from emotional situations.
It is possible to manage emotional eating and live a healthy life. With patience, dedication, and support, you can overcome emotional eating and reclaim your health.
If you are struggling with emotional eating, please seek professional help. Avalon Hills is prepared to help you find your way to recovery. Please give us a call at 866-954-0723.