When you find yourself sad, depressed or stressed, do you tend to turn to food for comfort? You are not alone. Majority of Americans are suffering from emotional eating. In fact, according to American Psychological Association, 38% of adults overeat monthly due to stress. Also, of those 38% of adults who admit to overeating, 33% of them say they do so because it helps to distract them from stress. The issue with emotional eating is that after we indulge a bit too much, we have regrets. While it is okay to comfort or to celebrate with food every now and then but overeating can lead to other health issues. Obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease to name a few.
How do you know if you’re an emotional eater?
- You respond with stress by eating high calorie, high cab foods with none to low nutritional value.
- You are eating not because you are physically hungry
- Food is not satisfying you, so you keep eating to feel satisfied
- Cravings are brought on by different emotions (anger, sadness, boredom, stress)
- You don’t want people to know what you really eat in the privacy of your home in the late hours because you can eat whatever you want
If this sounds like binge eating, you are right. They both involve the trouble of controlling your craving to eat a large amount of food at one sitting. However, emotional eating involves consuming small to large amounts of food and is the only symptom that a person has. Meanwhile binge eating relates to mental illness and characterized by recurrent incidents of overeating. Read our article here for more information about binge eating.
How to get help
Do not worry, you can break the habit of emotional. It may take some time but with practice you can change your reward system.
- Be aware: Realize that most of emotional eating happens unconsciously. Recognize where you do most of your emotional eating at to counter your cravings.
- Replace: When you get, bored or stressed and reach for a snack. Stop and think about doing something else in place eating. Call a friend, try some breathing exercises or sip on black tea. A study found that people who drank black tea experienced a drop in their stress levels that made them crave food by 47%.
- Don’t keep junk around: If you have easy access to temptations, you will always have the same issue when you get bored and go and grab something to eat. Swap it out for healthier options.
Determining your triggers for emotional eating is the first step in fixing it. Unhealthy overeating can turn from gaining a few pounds to becoming obese over years’ time of going untreated. If trying at home techniques don’t seem to help, please contact a doctor to help you evaluate what may be wrong. Mastering your emotions is a learned skill, with the proper tools you will be able to conquer your emotional eating.