Are you an emotional eater?

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Over the last few days I’ve really stuffed my face with junk.  I made breakfasts and lunches for the week but on top of that I’ve visiting the shops on site and loaded up with crisps, cake and chocolate.  Possibly as a result of being anxious about something.  Possibly because it’s now getting quite wintery and I just want to fill up on warm stodgy food, instead of being good and controlling my food intake.

Emotional eating is when we feel vulnerable and use food to support our feelings rather than because of hunger.  It happens when we experience emotional downturns, depression, anxiety, stress and even loneliness.  Obviously this can lead to weight increase and the health problems that are associated. An article in Health & Wellbeing magazine discussed how and why we comfort eat.

Finding comfort in food is fairly common with some people reaching for food to suppress and soothe negative feelings several times a week. Some of us then feel guilty for having stuffed our faces, leading to more depression or anxiety, fuelled by more food and the cycle continues.

There are lots of reasons why we eat emotionally eat.  For some if can be deep rooted, childhood trauma.  For others its stress related and food we tend to binge on is high in sugar and releases the feel good hormone, so temporarily we feel better. Taking time to understand when and why we emotionally eat can be beneficial.  Removing distractions and focussing on what the food tastes, looks and smells like. 

Comfort eating is perfectly normal.  We can associate specific foods with positive experiences and feelings of pleasure.  The problem comes when we use food as a sole coping mechanism.  Using food as one of a range of methods to self-soothe should not be demonised.

The article offers three ways to help feel more in control of emotional eating:

  1. Find another way – find a new way to deal with stress.  Anything from journaling, reading, going for a walk or some other way to decompress.
  2. Move – regular exercise can help a lot in terms of relieving stress.  Exercises that release endorphins like going for a walk, or job may help when you feel more emotional.
  3. Remove temptation – it’s easier to cave in when we know we can. If we have crisps, cake and chocolate in the cupboard, it’s all too easy to grab it in a moment of weakness. Make an effort not to buy it when you do the food shop.

I know that I’m only eating comfort food this week because I’ve been anxious about something.  I can tell, because I’ve also been chewing my finger nails and ripping the skin from the side of my thumb.  I also know that this time will pass and when it does, I’ll be back on it, nails and thumb intact.  So I’m not going to deny myself this temporary lapse, and enjoy the food that I know will be off limits again soon.

Do you use food as an emotional crutch?  If not, how to you cope?


One thought on “Are you an emotional eater?

  1. Totally with you on that one. Eat when I’m tired, stressed, celebrating etc. Hope your stress soon passes and your thumb heals 😉


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