Eating is necessary, but overeating is not. So how do you know the difference? There could be several reasons as to why you’re craving that tub of ice-cream in the middle of the night or a pizza during work hours. These odd hunger pangs are nothing more than your body emotionally stress eating. And if you do end up overeating or binge eating, you’ll probably end up feeling guilty for eating so much in the first place. And thus, goes on this vicious cycle. Here are some pointers to find out if you’re an emotional eater and how to get your mind to stop.
What is Emotional Eating?
Remember that time when you sat and ate the whole chocolate ice-cream carton by yourself while crying over your ex? Or when you and your friends were ‘bored’ so ordered too much food and then ate it all too? After a bad day at work, you ended up ordering food from a restaurant instead of cooking? These are moments of emotional eating.
Whenever something negative happens in your life, is your first response to go to the kitchen? Bad day at work? A fight with a loved one? Your brain has started fixing your negative days with yummy food although that’s not exactly what happens to your body.
Anger, embarrassment, pain, heartbreak, loneliness, and boredom can also make you binge eat depending on your fluctuating moods.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
- Eating when you’re emotionally stressed. This could be either due to work pressure, quarrels with a loved one or mental health issues.
- Eating even when you’re full or when you’re not hungry at all.
- Urgently wanting to eat when you’re sad/ angry / in pain / anxious/ bored in attempts to calm yourself down.
- You eat whenever something good happens to you. This is a habit picked up from your childhood when your elders or parents rewarded you for doing something right or a good deed.
- Eating till you’re overfull and feeling sick usually with friends or peer pressures.
- Turning to food whenever you’re feeling down and depressed about anything in life.
- You end up having no control over your food habits anymore.
You can always treat yourself once in a while. Like a pick me up once a month for all the bad days you’ve successfully faced. You need to understand that emotional hunger cannot be filled with food and may end up making you feel even worse. Mindless eating will make you feel guilty and shameful thus creating a cycle of emotions all over again. Eating unhealthy snacks will only ruin your appetite, health, and body.
Focus on things that make you feel light and stress-free. It could be a pet or a friend or tv show or music. This will help distract from your mind’s constant pressure to eat. Start maintaining a journal where you can record your moods and what you’ did instead of eating. This will help you realise how far you’ve come from your binge eating days.