Emotional eating can be defined as the action of eating large amounts of food even when you are not hungry.
Often in response to certain feelings, one may turn to junk food or comfort foods.
If you are feeling sad and head for a piece of
chocolate cake you could be eating due to your emotion.
Perhaps when you’re angry you want to eat a whole bag of chips.
could mean you suffer from over eating due to feelings and not hunger.
This is when
emotions are controlling what you eat and not your body’s natural
Do Your Emotions Make You Eat?
Many people are not aware of their current eating habits and therefore
do not know if they are eating due to some emotion.
So how do
you know if you suffer from over eating due to your emotions? You could
emotional eater if you answer yes to any of these questions;
- Do you feel guilty after you eat even when you
were not hungry?
- Do you find yourself eating before you even
- Do you have cravings for certain foods when you
are upset or sad?
- Do you eat because you have nothing else to do
and are bored?
- Do you find yourself eating instead of dealing
with a problem?
The list of questions and emotions can go on and
on, but you get the gist of it.
If you head for the vending
because of the stress of a deadline at work or you sneak a candy bar
you are home alone and bored, this is emotional eating according to
RN, MA, a Denver weight loss specialist and author of Life is Hard,
Easy: The 5 Step Plan to Overcome Emotional Eating and Lose Weight on
Learning your emotional triggers will help you understand why, what and
when you eat out of emotions versus eating due to hunger.
Difference Between Hunger and Emotional Eating
There are differences between eating from emotions and eating due to
Recognizing these differences will help you to
determine what emotions trigger your unhealthy eating.
- Hunger comes on slowly whereas emotional hunger
will come on suddenly.
- When you are hungry, you are generally open to
any foods to satisfy your hunger. However, if you are craving
certain foods, and only these foods will satisfy you, this is emotional
- Physical hunger can generally wait, but with
emotional hunger, you will feel the need to eat immediately.
- With physical hunger, you will eat until you
are full but when you eat because of emotional triggers, you will keep
on eating even after
you are full.
Know Your Emotional Triggers
When certain emotions trigger your cravings, you
will try to find your
comfort foods like
chocolate or potato chips.
Being aware of which emotions
trigger your unhealthy eating is the first step to changing your eating
habits due to emotions.
journal and write down what you eat and when.
Keep track of
all the foods and drinks you have in the day, when you ate them and
what you were feeling at the time you ate and how you felt in general
for the day.
Track your eating habits for 1 to 4 weeks to see if there are any
patterns in your snacking habits. Review your weight loss
journal and note any times you overate or snacked on your
Look at your journal for the times you headed for the
cookie jar and see if there was a particular emotion you were feeling.
Now write down these emotions that you know trigger your
Types of Emotional Eating
According to Linda Spangle, the
emotions you are feeling tend to correlate to the food choices you
For instance, Spangle calls "head hunger" emotional
eating that comes from intellectual sources like stress, anger and
Perhaps you missed a big deadline at work or you
feel you are misunderstood. This tends to lead to the crunchy
and chewy foods to satisfy your head hunger.
Another type of emotional snacking according to Spangle is "heart
When experiencing heart hunger you may not know exactly what
you want to snack on, you just feel you need something that makes you
If you are lonely, bored, depressed, sad or just feeling
empty you probably want to find some food that has fond memories for
you like ice cream, cakes, etc.
Dealing With Emotions and Overeating
Emotional snackers have a hard time losing weight due to their
or binging getting in the way. If you are trying to lose
weight or just want to eat healthy, then you want to find ways to deal
with your emotions other than your comfort foods.
to Avoid Eating When Emotional
Go for a walk around the block or up and down
the stairs at work.
Walking helps relieve stress, gives you energy and
will give you time to focus on the emotion and problem at hand without
heading to the vending machine.
- Listen to music to help you avoid eating.
If you are feeling bored or depressed, then make your
selection something up beat and fun.
If you are feeling
stressed or overworked, then pick something nice and relaxing.
- Visit with a friend and just chit chat.
Go across the street and gab a bit with your neighbor or walk
down the hall and talk with a coworker.
- Do some gardening or house work to keep you
mind off the bag of potato chips. Not only will you be
avoiding your comfort food you will be productive and this will make
you feel better about yourself.
- Read a book or magazine for pleasure.
Just take 10 to 20 minutes to sit down and read, focusing
only on the book and not food.
- Drink a glass of water instead of the snack.
This allows you time to really determine if it's hunger or
emotional eating. It also allows you time to ponder over your
- A weight loss support group is also a great way
to help understand
emotional eating. You are not alone in this. In
fact experts say that emotional snacking accounts for 75% of overeating.
If you still have problems with your emotional
eating then try joining a weight loss support group
you through the tough times.
Use these tips to help you get motivated to lose weight.
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