What is Emotional Eating?
Emotional eating is the practice of managing one's emotions by eating food. Here are some things that can help you figure out how to identify emotional eating, its effects, and a handful of tips on what you can do.
What causes emotional eating?
Major changes in circumstances, relationships, work dynamics, daily stress, and general feelings of a loss of control can be major factors. For example, a recent break up could drive a person to emotional eating. A sudden change in the demeanor of a formally cordial coworker could leave you feeling alienated, or the daily ebb and flow of lives daily activities could put you in mood where food is thought of as a reward, a way to relieve stress, or way to avoid dealing with emotions surrounding a situation.
How do you detect emotional eating?
There are a few differences between the type of hunger that comes from emotional needs, and that of physical needs. Physical hunger is gradual, and eating fulfills the need for nourishment. When you eat after having been physically hungry, you will most likely feel better or more energized. When the hunger is emotional hunger, eating may not give you the feeling of being filled, which can lead to overeating. At the end of the meal, you might feel tired, or depressed, but there are even more long term effects that can come from emotional eating.
How can emotional eating affect you?
Along with the emotional effects already mentioned, there are a number of health risks associated with emotional eating. It is one of the leading causes of failed diets and weight gain. Weight gain puts a heavy strain on organs such as the heart, lungs, and liver, which can lead to high blood pressure and diabetes. Yet, not only internal organs are at risk. A person who has gained a substantial amount of weight faces an increased risk of joint injuries of all types. A slip or fall could result in a serious injury that requires surgery, and many months of healing, but what is even more frightening is the fact that a lot weight gain could make it more difficult, or even prevent emergency medical teams from being able to respond in an efficient or timely manner.
What can you do?
One of the most commonly used methods of determining the source of hunger is the food test. Ask yourself if you want to eat this food, or if there is something else you can eat instead. You can also try habit replacement. Find something positive to do when you feel stressed out. Exercise, deep breathing, or any stress relieving hobby can go a long way to improving your control.