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5 Signs You're Emotionally Eating
Think about the last time you ate something and what influenced your decision to do so. Was it because you had a bad day and were feeling stressed causing you to turn to food for comfort or did you eat because you were hungry? If your answer is anything but hunger, then you may be an emotional eater. Emotional eating is the use of food to manage how you feel as a common practice or eating as a reaction to how you feel. Even though the food was meant to be enjoyed, eating emotionally can end up being problematic for you if food is the only way for you to reward, distract, comfort or even soothe yourself. Emotional eating manifests itself in several ways. However, if you feel yourself deciding to eat for any of the mentioned reasons, this decision might be compelled, not by what your body needs but by how you feel.
- You eat even when you’re not hungry. The body has a way of telling you that it needs physical nourishment- which is hunger. If you feel like you want food yet you do not have the rumbling and growling feeling in your tummy, this means the cravings you’re experiencing are for emotional nourishment. Food can be a simple, cheap and fast way for some of us to feel comforted, loved and entertained.
- You have food fear of missing out. This is when you are watching someone eat something yummy and you want to take it for yourself and eat it or visiting an aunt or your grandmother and overindulging in her special dishes because you won’t get it again for the rest of the year or even feeling the pressure to join in when your friends are all on their 3rd glass of wine. We subconsciously feel that the satisfaction, happiness and magic are in the food and we want our share of it.
- You are not at peace with your body. Seeing as most emotional eaters indulge in more than is required and are superseding their bodies’ natural signals or hunger, this results in them developing a bad relationship with their bodies. They pick themselves apart in the mirror, call themselves careless and weak for looking the way they do and convince themselves that if they could just get themselves together then they will have more confidence at work or start dating.
- You don’t want other people knowing what you really eat. You probably have this idea that if your friends or loved ones saw how you ate then they wouldn’t love you. Hiding your food perpetuates a belief that there is something wrong with you and that if people found out what was going on with you, they would think you are a weirdo or a freak.
- Eating makes you feel guilty. That feeling of ‘I shouldn’t be eating this’ whenever you indulge in some tasty food at a restaurant is familiar to you. This robs you of the eating experience entirely leaving you craving more of this ‘forbidden’ food in order to feel satisfied.
- If you find yourself reaching for comfort food to try and make yourself feel better, pause and analyze whether it will be beneficial to your well-being in general and long-term. If not put it back and look for alternative ways that will comfort you such as journaling, meditation, mindfulness and yoga.
- If you are eating to reward yourself this might be as a result of emotional impulse and not the body’s own rhythm. Add some rhythm to your day by making time for healthy snacks and meals at specific times. This will make sure you’ll make time to enjoy foods you love plus not go too long without eating.
- If eating is your way of avoiding conflict, making hard decisions or other stressful situations make a list of stress-reducing activities to engage in when you feel stressful situations coming on. This may be going for a walk in the park or in your neighborhood or talking through things with a friend. Regardless of the method, searching for alternative ways to reduce stress could end up being a positive step in the right direction with regard to dealing with such situations as they come up.
- Realizing that you feel like you have no control over your food desires can help you start looking for more long-lasting and healthier approaches to help yourself. First, you’ll need to take away the magic that the foods you crave seem to possess. Look for how you can involve them in your regular meal routine. This will normalize them and make them easier to involve in your meal plan in a balanced way.