Not all of us eat food simply to satisfy hunger pangs. There are great numbers of people who resort to food as a relief from stress or eat for pleasure or to eat simply reward themselves. Such form of eating is known as emotional eating and unfortunately, it does not solve emotional problems but can only make the person feel even worse after consuming unhealthy foods on a binge. It is important to know when to stop emotional eating and to recognise the signs before falling for it.
The problem with emotional eating is that the emotional problems that triggered the impulse of eating still remain, and to compound the situation you have an additional burden of feeling terribly guilty for bingeing or eating unhealthy foods. One of the first steps to breaking free from emotional eating disorder or compulsive bingeing is to recognise the triggers which compel the person to eat during a stressful situation. Doing so can set you on the path of modifying the unhealthy habit of eating at will.
How does one understand emotional eating in one’s life? If you reach out for the pint of ice cream or any other decadent dessert whenever you are feeling low or distressed, you are experiencing emotional eating. In other cases, in spite of having had a full meal you still have a craving for dessert and make room for it, you are indulging in emotional eating. Although it is not necessarily a bad thing to use food as a reward, or a celebration means or as a pick me up, but if it becomes your primary coping mechanism — that is your first instinct is to raid the fridge whenever you are tired, distressed, fatigued, furious or lonesome, you are resorting to the unhealthy habit of emotional eating and in reality you are trying to escape the actual problem by only filling yourself up. However, you will realise that the problem in itself does not get addressed in spite of having binged on unhealthy food.
One of the most important points to remember is that the emotional hunger that you are experiencing cannot be filled with food. Although you might feel good at that particular moment when you are gorging on sweets, pastries or any other form of junk food available at hand, the feelings that sparked off the emotional eating still loom at large. Almost every individual who is an emotional eater feels far worse after having consumed unnecessary calories and mentally beat themselves up for not having had enough willpower. As the situation spirals out of control, the individual stops learning the right way of dealing with the emotions and discovers that it becomes harder to control the weight, while at the same time losing control over the power of food and one’s emotions.
The primary function of food is to provide your body with nourishment and nutrients to ensure overall good health, both in mind and body. Food should not be associated as a security asset or a friend in times of emotional need. Knowing these signs can go a long way in preparing yourself to deal with the problem of emotional eating.
Carol Pereira is a health and fitness expert and has been writing on the subject for the last many years.