How to know if you’re an ’emotional eater.’
Emotional eating is the practice of consuming large quantities of food — usually “comfort” or junk foods — in response to feelings instead of hunger. Some of the common emotional eating cues are:
Whether you’re angry at yourself, another person or a situation, you stifle your feelings using food rather than confronting them and releasing them. It’s easier to smother a problem than to deal with it.
You think: Nothing really matters anyway. Nothing’s ever going to change or get better for me. So, why should I care about my health or weight? Besides, eating makes me feel better. (Please note: Extreme feelings of hopelessness are typical of chronic depression. Please talk to a mental health professional if you find yourself feeling perpetually hopeless.)
Lack of Control
You think: My life is out of control. There is nothing in it that I am in charge of. Everyone and everything around me rules my life. Except for eating… I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want it. So I will.
Perhaps you’ve accomplished something exceptional at work and no one has noticed. Or maybe you’ve made a personal achievement you’d dreamed of for years. But no one at home shares your pride. You find yourself tempted to congratulate yourself by “treating” yourself to a binge.
There’s nothing to do. Nowhere to go. Perhaps you feel lonely, too. There’s nothing at home to occupy your mind or your hours. But there is a pantry full of comfort food that will kill some of that empty time.
If you fit into any one of these five profiles, try sitting down with a piece of paper and brainstorming to find alternative behaviors to eating.
You may be surprised at the solutions you come up with… and at just how well they work once you try them.
Then, write your ideas on notecards and post them where you will see them in your moment of need — how about on the refrigerator door or next to the pantry?
Accepting why you eat the way you do can be a big step towards breaking the cycle of emotional eating.