5 Signs You Have an Emotional Eating Problem
Human beings tend to seek comfort in certain things as an emotional response.
For example, a family member or friend’s death may cause one to never leave their house, or never want to be alone. Similarly, some people find their comfort in food regardless of their situation or emotional feelings.
There are indicating factors as to what triggers an emotional response and emotional eating is a result of such factors. Carol Cottrill, certified nutritionist, says “Emotional eating is when one eats for reasons other than actual hunger”.
Here are five signs that indicate you have an emotional eating problem.
You Eat Whether Happy, Sad, Bored, Stressed or Anxious
If your day revolves around picking up that soft drink or eating those tasty chips, then you are emotionally eating. Amie Valpone, culinary nutritionist and personal chef says that, “anxiety and stress tend to translate into emotional eating”.
Think about a time when you were stressed and the dopamine release from food made you feel relieved. Now think about a time when you were happy and you decided to dive into a piece of cake… see it’s all coming back to you now.
We must develop good habits and this starts with making a healthy eating plan and sticking to it.
What are methods to prevent this eating due to your different emotions?
- Get to the root of the issue causing the emotions. For this you can work with a behavior specialist or hypnotherapist.
- Change your habits so you go for the healthy snacks. This can take time but it works if you stick with it.
You Lack Self Control
Self-control will cause us to do things that we don’t necessarily want to do but we do them anyway because it just seems too easy not to do. Take a step back and understand yourself as a person.
In my health coaching practice, I ask clients in which area of their life do they have self-control? We all have self-control in another area of our life – whether it’s getting to meetings on time; spending only on certain items; keeping the phone away when working on important projects; drinking alcohol only at a social gatherings; cleaning; or anything else.
Why is it important to you to have self-control in that area? Now, can you cross over that kind of thinking and importance to your eating habits?
You Have Not Found Other Ways to Deal With Your Problems
Food can and does replace exercise, meditation and therapy for many people because it hits all the pleasure spots! We must learn to deal with issues in the way that they should be dealt with.
Susan Albers, Psy.D., supports “learning calorie-free coping skills”. This really is the best way to avoid overeating as it occupies the minds towards other things.
Many of my clients say that mindless eating is also a problem. Mindless eating occurs when:
- You put something in your mouth before even considering whether you’re hungry or not. Just because it’s there, you’ll put your hand out like a robot, pick it up and stick it in your mouth.
- You watch TV or play on the computer or text while eating. You’re not connecting your mind and body in the act of eating.
- Making unconscious choices about food based on instant gratification.
Calorie-Free Coping Skills
- Pick a hobby that takes your focus away from food. For example, play a musical instrument, learn something new by watching YouTube videos or take evening recreational classes.
- Exercise – it clears your mind and even helps you cope with any problems you may be facing that is causing you to eat emotionally.
- Seek help to deal with your problem whether it’s a coach, advisor, mentor or even a family member.
- Create rules for yourself. For example, brush teeth after dinner to avoid snacking.
Your Environment and/or Culture
Where you grew up and how the people around you eat, could be an indicator of your emotional eating habits. In many cultures it is customary to always eat when offered food. This could lead to eating when not hungry. Friends and family may be over eaters and you’ve developed the habit from your environment as a way to not feel left out.
“A study from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics” has confirmed that people will naturally (subconsciously) match the equivalent quantities of food as the people they are eating with. Be sure to pay attention next time you’re in this situation.
You Don’t Realize You Are Overeating
This is probably the most obvious and the most frustrating reason because the emotional habit has literally consumed the person at this point. There is just no realization and therefore no action taken to counter this issue.
At this point, help is very necessary, and one should not be ashamed to reach out in order to restore their self-image and detrimental habits.
The short and long-term side effects are simply not worth neglecting emotional eating habits. Take charge of your health!