What would you do to feel better when you are faced with one of these situations?
- You had a fight with your best friend?
- It’s the day before a very important exam… and you are cramming.
- You break up with your boyfriend/girlfriend, and you feel sad and lonely?
a) Speak to your mother, brother or someone close to you about how you feel and have a long comforting talk.
… or …
b) The moment you get home, you run to the refrigerator and have a cake, or ice cream, or left over pizza?
If your answer is yes to b then you may have a tendency towards emotional eating.
What is emotional eating?
The body needs the nutrition that food provides to survive, the excess foods we eat are stored for later as fat. Emotional eating is when we use food to cope with our feelings such as boredom, fear, anger, sadness, etc. It’s when we think food will fill an emotional void and make us feel better when we are feeling bad.
Eating frequently for emotional reasons causes many problems. They range from physical complications such as obesity and health issues to emotional and psychological discomfort such as feelings of guilt, depression, loss of control, etc.
So, how do you differentiate between emotional hunger and real physical hunger?
- Usually when it’s emotional the urge is sudden and you want a specific type of food, usually, sweats, chips, pizza basically the dangerous “junk foods”. When you have “real” hunger you will want to eat any number of foods and they usually satisfy your hunger.
- With physical hunger once you are full you usually stop eating, with emotional hunger you seem to be a bottomless pit, in other words, you tend to overeat.
- If you feel guilty after you have eaten it’s usually a sign of emotional eating, if you feel satisfied and good then you have eaten for the “right” reasons.