Emotional Eating 101

Emotional Eating

What is Emotional Eating?

Emotional eating is the habit of controlling one’s emotions by eating food. Here are some items that can help you figure out how to identify emotional eating, its effects, and some tips on what you can do.

What causes emotional eating?

Major changes in relationships, work dynamics, daily stress, circumstances, and general feelings of a loss of control can all be major factors. For example, a recent break up, divorce or death of a loved one could drive a person to emotional eating. A sudden change in the demeanor of a friend or coworker could leave you feeling alienated, and could put you in mood where food is thought of as a way to relieve stress, or way to avoid dealing with the underlying situation.

How do you detect emotional eating?

There are a differences between hunger that comes from physical needs and emotional needs. Physical hunger is gradual, and eating fulfills the need for daily nutrition. When you eat after having been physically hungry, you will most likely feel more energized and feel better. When the hunger is emotional hunger, eating may not give you the satisfaction of being filled, which can lead to overeating. At the end of the meal, you might feel depressed or tired, but there are even more long term negative effects that can come from emotional eating.

How can emotional eating affect you?

Along with the emotional effects aforementioned, there are a number of negative health risks associated with emotional eating. Emotional eating is one of the leading causes of weight gain and failed diets. Weight gain puts a heavy strain on vital organs such as the lungs, heart and liver, which can lead to high blood pressure and diabetes. Yet, not only internal organs are at high-risk. A person who has gained a substantial amount of weight faces an increased risk of joint injuries of all types. A slip or fall could result in a serious injury that requires surgery, and many months of physical therapy.

What can you do?

One of the most commonly used methods of determining the source of hunger is conducting a food test. Ask yourself if you want to eat this food, or if there is something else you can eat instead. You can also try habit replacement. Find something positive to do when you feel stressed out verses eating. Exercise, meditating, or any stress relieving hobby can go a long way to improving your control.