Emotional Overeating

Anytime you put food into your mouth when you are not hungry is called emotional eating. Rather than hunger fueling your desire to eat something, an emotion is driving you to binge on something you do not really want. Emotional eating is not something people only do when they are feeling down (think the newly single girl on television who indulges in a gallon of her favorite ice cream to feel better about her break up). It is something you do when an emotion drives you. That emotion could be sadness, such as when you are hurt by a loved one or lose your job. That emotion could also be simple boredom; the house is clean, the kids are in bed and you are wandering around trying to find something to do when you decide that eating cookies is the right choice. Emotional eating can lead to weight gain, depression and feelings of guilt, which is why you need to know the difference between being hungry and being emotional in the kitchen.


 Knowing the Difference


There are a number of ways to differentiate between emotional eating and actual hunger. By being in tune with your body, you will easily be able to tell the difference. The first difference between emotional eating and hunger is that hunger occurs gradually. You typically begin to feel hungry over time, becoming hungrier as time passes, whereas emotional eating is something that happens suddenly. Additionally, when you are truly hungry you are open to eating anything. When you are eating emotionally you crave something specific, because it is the only food that will satisfy that craving.


When you are hungry you don’t feel as if though you have to eat immediately. When you are eating because of an emotion you want to eat immediately. Finally, when you eat for emotional reasons instead of hunger, you often feel guilty afterward.


 Stop Emotional Eating


By recognizing when you are making a food decision based off of an emotion rather than hunger, you can avoid emotional eating and the subsequent feelings of guilt that come with it. The first thing you need to do when an emotional eating feeling strikes is to distract yourself. When you are craving a food because of an emotion, you are attempting to either remove or create a feeling in yourself that you are currently missing. Instead of feeding your emotions, find a healthier alternative. The next time you feel the need to eat emotionally, take a walk. Exercise helps to increase your mood and boost your level of happiness. By replacing emotional eating with exercise, you are making yourself healthier and happier.


You can also try making a list of things that always make you feel good. The next time you feel the need to eat something because of your emotions, refer to this list and try something on it instead. Keeping a food journal is another way to help you stop overeating due to emotional eating. This allows you to keep a tangible record of when you tend to feel the most emotional and are most likely going to overeat for the wrong reasons. By establishing this pattern, you will be able to help yourself to avoid emotional eating and maybe even figure out what the cause of your emotional eating is.


There is nothing wrong with indulging in something sweet from time to time. The key is not to go overboard and spend your time eating for emotions rather than hunger. Feeding your emotions has a very negative effect on your overall health, which is far more difficult to improve than your mood.


Richard Hasson. Finished psychology at Washington university, currently working for Long Island divorce attorneys as an consultant for people who are going through tough divorce. He also likes to write about self-help for depression and life in general.


Overcoming The Bad Habit Of Emotional Eating

Overcoming The Bad Habit Of Emotional Eating

Eating is one of our basic functions in order to survive. It can be bad for us though if we get overboard and gain much weight. One of the causes for this is emotional eating.

Emotional eating is an outcome of stress. It ends with the scale but begins largely on the mind. When we get stressed or feel down, our brain looks for a way to cope with it. Some people sleep, others tend to eat.

Food is the best solution for some people because it is almost guilt-free. Eating seems like a lesser evil compared to taking drugs or binge drinking. It is a coping mechanism that doesn’t judge people, hurt them or reject them. A scientific reason why food is preferable is because it makes feel better as some foods are endorphin-releasers.

Food is used to relieve stress. Stressors range from mundane things like overtime at work to more grave ones like death or physical abuse.

How do you know if you’re using food as a coping mechanism? One of the first sign is weight gain. If you have been experiencing weight gain due to stress, then you might want to examine other aspects of your life such as:

* Have you been stressed lately at home or in the office?

* Have you been in a traumatic experience the past year?

* Are you finding difficulties in solving a problem?

If your answer is yes, then you might be an emotional eater. You tend to eat even if you’re not hungry. The term used to describe the food you eat when stressed is “comfort food.” These include:

* Foods rich in fats like French fries and other fried foods

* Foods rich in carbohydrates like pasta and mashed potatoes

* Sweets like ice cream, cookies, cake and doughnuts

Emotional eating has a cure though. The first step is by identifying that you are an emotional eater. Feelings of helplessness that you can’t find a way out of the habit, and guilt that you might be doing something that is bad for you rule emotional eating.

The second step is by seeking professional help. Stopping emotional eating depends much on controlling your behavior toward food and your emotions.

Visualization, problem solving, meditation and relaxation techniques and family support are things a counselor will suggest to you. Visualization will help you look at food as something that you need to survive because of its nutritional value, not as a scapegoat from your problems.

Notifying your family of your problems will be of great help to you as they will learn about your stressors. They can also help you monitor your eating habits, and help you make healthy choices.

Proper diet, exercise routines, and yoga will also be suggested to you by a counselor as they increase the strength of your immune system, positive thinking and blood flow. Yoga enhances the mind and body connection so you won’t think of eating when you’re not even hungry..

Looking for ways to face your problems and deal with them will push emotional eating out of the equation. You’ll feel good about it once you’ve overcome food dependence.