Emotional eating is a common occurrence among individuals who are overweight, especially if they are having trouble losing weight and keeping it off. It is a vicious cycle that is often hard to break. With emotional eating, you eat to either feel better or to feed positive emotions so that they continue. Fortunately, there are ways to deal with emotional eating.
How Your Emotions Affect Your Eating
While each individual experiences different triggers for emotional eating, the primary cause seems to be the same: The person associates good feelings with eating certain foods — or any food for that matter.
Not surprisingly, though, there are some foods that tend to be associated with emotional eating more than others. Chocolates and other sweets hold a prime spot because they release serotonin and dopamine, both mood-boosting chemicals. Sometimes comfort foods, such as macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes, are the go-to emotional eating food choice.
Regardless of the food choice, though, emotional eaters use food as a coping mechanism. They use food as a means to deal with certain things that happen in life.
It should be pointed out that it isn’t just sad or angry feelings that are connected with emotional eating. A wide a wide range of emotions can be involved, including happiness and excitement.
Signs of Emotional Overeating
There is a significant difference between emotional eating and simply being hungry. Some of the most common signs of emotional eating and overeating include instant food gratification, mindless eating, craving specific foods, and not feeling satisfied even when full.
Tips for Overcoming Emotional Eating
If you find that you are struggling with emotional eating, there are some things that can help you stop the troublesome cycle.
- Keep a food diary. The first thing to do is to try to recognize the difference between physical hunger and having an appetite to simply craving food due to your emotional eating. Keeping a diary of what you eat and when you eat it can help you with this distinction.
- Recognize triggers. The food diary helps even further by allowing you to recognize triggers, such as intense stress or an increased level of happiness and contentment.
- Eat a complete breakfast. Eating a full and nutritious breakfast can keep the cravings away due to the rise in your blood sugar.
- Find ways to distract yourself. Finding something else that boosts your mood to replace food is a great idea — exercising, for example.
Admitting that you are doing emotional eating is the first step toward overcoming it. Next, develop positive and healthy habits to stop your overeating and learn to be physically and emotionally healthy.