What is emotional eating? Eating for reasons other than hunger, or eating as a way to soothe negative feelings.
Common causes of emotional eating are stress, anger, boredom, sadness, anxiety, and loneliness. Don’t let these feelings sabotage you when you’re trying to lose weight.
How to tell the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger
- Physical Hunger
- Occurs gradually
- You are open to many food options
- Your hunger can wait
- You're more likely to stop eating when you're full
- Left with feeling of satiety
- Emotional Hunger
- Occurs suddenly
- Generally you crave a specific food
- Feels like it needs to be satisfied instantly
- You're more likely to keep eating after you're full
- Can leave behind feelings of guilt and shame
Boy oh Boy, those comfort foods!
A comfort food is something that helps us to maintain or obtain a specific feeling. They’re not only eaten when we’re in a negative mood but also when we’re in a good mood. Comfort foods are fine in moderation. It’s when eating becomes the main strategy to deal with emotions that a problem occurs.
Managing Emotional Eating
- Recognize that you’re eating because of emotion, and what emotion triggers that response.
- Make a list of things to do, or an “action plan” if you have the urge to eat when you’re not really hungry. These things could include taking a walk, calling a friend, doing laundry, cleaning, playing cards, taking a nap, watching a movie. Something you can use to distract yourself.
- Learn ways to feed the emotion differently. If you need to feel nurtured or loved find something new that also makes you feel that way. Try listening to music, growing a garden, doing something nice for a neighbor, volunteering to help others, or inviting over a longtime friend.
- Find some healthy comfort foods. (fruit, pretzels, yogurt, soup, tea)
- Don’t keep unhealthy foods around, and if you feel hungry or upset don’t rush out to the grocery store, wait a few hours and curb your appetite with a healthy snack.
- Eat a balanced diet. If you’re not eating enough calories to meet your own energy needs you’ll be more likely to fall to the temptation of emotional eating. Fill up on whole grains, protein, fruits, vegetables, and those healthy fats to feel fuller, longer.
- Get enough sleep. You know how much your body needs. Your mood is more easily managed and your body can fight stress more easily when you’re rested.
8. Get regular activity. Being active can improve your mood as well as your body. Stay fit and healthy.
Remember also that if you give into emotional eating it’s important to forgive yourself and start fresh the next day. Use it as a learning experience and make a plan to prevent it in the future.
- What emotions cause me to eat when I’m not hungry?
- What can I do instead of eating in response to my emotions?
- What are some of my healthy comfort foods?