Do you also find yourself racing towards the fridge after a bad day at work? Or bingeing on a pint of chocolate ice cream when you’re feeling down? Finding solace and comfort in food in times of distress is pretty common and is known as emotional eating. So what exactly is emotional eating?

Here’s everything you need to know about this prevalent social practice. Read on to find out more. 

Signs you are An Emotional Eater

  • You eat more when you’re feeling stressed.
  • You eat when you’re not hungry or even when you’re full.
  • You eat to make yourself feel better (to calm and soothe yourself when you’re sad, mad, bored, anxious, etc.
  • You reward yourself with your favorite food whenever something good happens.
  • You feel powerless and can’t resist yourself around food

Emotional Eating Causes

Mentioned below could be the following reasons for your stress. Women do not stress eat because they wish to instead it is the response to the trouble that men cause.

1. Stress

You must’ve noticed that you tend to binge on food when you have too much stress going on. This stress may stem from work, family or any personal stress going on in your life. When your body endures too much stress, it produces high levels of the stress hormone ;cortisol. Cortisol triggers the cravings of your favorite food which often includes fried, salty and sweet foods. Though these foods are unhealthy; but they they lead to a boost of energy and contentment. The more stressed you are, the more you are likely to resort to food to relieve yourself. 

2. Suppress your emotions 

As a way to avoid and soothe our unpleasant and negative emotions like anger, fear, sadness, loneliness, boredom, resentment, guilt and shame. Negative emotions deplete our  cognitive control, breaking down the barriers that were holding us back from our bodies’ true desire to eat, and thereby giving boost to our appetite. Food distracts you from all the unpleasant emotions you are currently experiencing 

3. Social influences 

Getting together with other people for a meal is a great way to relieve stress, but it can also lead to overeating. It’s easy to give in simply because the food is there or because everyone else is eating. You may also overeat in social situations out of nervousness. Or perhaps your family or friends may insist on doing so. Then, it becomes especially difficult to give in to the cravings. 

Emotional Eater
Emotional Eater

4. Childhood habits 

Think back to your childhood memories of food. your parents must’ve rewarded your good behavior with ice cream, treated you with pizza when you got a good report card, or when you were feeling sad? These habits can often continue into adulthood too. . Or your eating may be driven by nostalgia for cherished memories of your childhood like making weekend dinner  with your family. 

How to Overcome Emotional Eating 

Possible ways to prevent your emotional eating are:

1. Meditation

Numerous studies show that meditation reduces stress, although much of the research has focused on high blood pressure and heart disease. Meditation may also help people become more mindful of their food choices. With practice, a person may be able to pay better attention to the impulse to grab a fat- and sugar-loaded comfort food and inhibit the impulse.

2. Exercise

While cortisol levels vary depending on the intensity and duration of exercise, overall exercise can blunt some of the negative effects of stress. Practicing some basic aerobic exercises like cycling, running, and swimming may help you reduce the intensity of your negative emotions. Some activities, such as yoga and tai chi, have elements of both exercise and meditation.

3. Take adequate sleep

Do you also have those midnight food cravings when you can’t sleep? Basically, when you don’t get the sleep you need, your body craves sugary and fried foods that will give you a quick energy boost. Getting plenty of rest will help with appetite control and reduce your midnight food cravings.

4. Social support

Friends, family, and other sources of social support seem to have a buffering effect on the stress that people experience. Resist isolation in moments of loneliness,  sadness or anxiety. Even a quick phone call to a friend or a family member can do wonders to your mood. You should also plan meetups and get togethers with your friends to escape your negative emotions. Your doctor may give you a referral to a counselor or life coach who can help you identify your negative emotions and help you cope with emotional eating.

5. Eat a wholesome diet 

Another key aspect in coping with emotional eating is to make sure that you get enough nutrients to fuel your body . It can be difficult to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger. If you eat nutritious foods throughout the day in an adequate quantity, it may be easier to spot when you’re eating out of boredom or sadness or stress.

Still having trouble resisting? Try reaching for healthy snacks, like fresh fruits, vegetables, healthy carbohydrates and other low-fat, low-calorie foods Instead of resorting to unhealthy and junk snacks.

Emotional Eating
Emotional Eating 

6. Avoid distractions

Nothing’s better than having a tub of popcorn in front of your favorite tv show. These may lead to the formation of a bad habit of munching while watching. It is recommended to put down your phone and switch off the tv the next time you find yourself in this pattern.

By focusing on your food, the bites you take, and your level of hunger, you may discover that you’re eating emotionally. Some even find it helpful to focus on chewing 10 to 30 times before swallowing a bite of food. Doing these things gives your mind time to catch up to your stomach.

7. Work on positive self-talk 

Feelings of low self – esteem,  guilt are associated with emotional eating. It’s important to work on the self-talk you experience after an episode — or it may lead to a cycle of emotional eating behavior.

Food may initially help to ease your emotions and make you comfortable but addressing the feelings behind hunger is important in the long term. Work on finding alternative ways to deal with distress, like exercise and peer support, and try inculcating proper eating habits.

Also Read: 5 Ways To Control Stress Eating