We don’t always eat just to satisfy physical hunger. Many of us also turn to food for comfort, stress relief, or to reward ourselves.
Emotional eating is using food to make yourself feel better and to feed emotional needs, rather than your stomach.
Occasionally using food as a pick-me-up, a reward, or to celebrate isn’t a bad thing. But when eating is your primary emotional coping mechanism and your first impulse is to open the fridge whenever you’re stressed, upset, angry, lonely, exhausted, or bored - you will quickly find yourself stuck in an unhealthy cycle where the real feeling or problem is never addressed.
While feeding your emotional hunger with food may feel good at the time, the feelings that triggered the eating are still there after the food is finished. You’ll find yourself left unsatisfied and you often feel worse than you did before because of the unnecessary food you’ve just consumed. You beat yourself for messing up and not having more willpower. And so the cycle continues…
Compounding the problem, you stop learning healthier ways to deal with your emotions, you have a harder and harder time controlling your weight, and you feel increasingly powerless over both food and your feelings.
This is a cycle I see SO often in my weight loss patients, particularly those who have been trying to lose weight for many years.
If you don’t know how to manage your emotions in a way that doesn’t involve food, you won’t be able to control your eating habits for very long.
Diets so often fail because they offer logical nutritional advice which only works if you have conscious control over your eating habits. It doesn’t work when emotions hijack your best intentions, demanding an immediate payoff with food.
The good news is that it is possible to learn healthier ways to deal with your emotions, avoid triggers, conquer cravings, and finally put a stop to emotional eating.
If this post has resonated with you, make sure you reach out for some support.