Emotional eating is a mechanism which helps us cope with day to day life. You know, life, the tangle of emotions that we feel about ourselves and others. Just like smoking, it’s fast acting and offers instant pleasure, it’s no wonder so many of us fall into the trap when we’re stressed or unhappy.
Nobody likes to admit that they might be an emotional eater, that’s down to shame. Most of us hide the fact like a ‘dirty secret’, even those closest to us may never know how badly we’re suffering. But emotional eating is nothing to be ashamed of, it’s just a frustrating habit, especially after you’ve downed a whole packet of biscuits or a family size packet of crisps without taking much time to even breathe between mouthfuls.
So, I’m going to share with you three signs that might help you understand if you’re emotionally eating, and better still, what you can do about it.
The number 1 sign of emotional eating is that you immediately think of food after an emotional event.
I know it sounds obvious, but it is. If your first inclination is to turn to food after an emotional event, a disagreement with a friend, loved one or someone at work, or if you’re experiencing boredom or procrastination, you might be engaging in emotional eating. Think about it, it makes perfect sense, emotional eating is a coping mechanism to mask the intensity of an uncomfortable emotion. It also makes sense if, from a young age, we were consoled and soothed with food, and oh how I understand that one.
The second sign of emotional eating is that you feel guilty after eating.
Typically, if you were satisfying physical hunger, you wouldn’t feel guilty about it. Think of the last time you were starving and then enjoyed a big dinner. You probably didn’t think, ‘Oh no, I shouldn’t have had that’ you’d probably think ‘I really needed that I feel so much better!’ But if you are eating for emotional reasons, you might experience guilt because it wasn’t exactly necessary. You then might also start worrying about putting on weight, how ugly your body is, or maybe you get angry with yourself for being an idiot.
This is where you dig yourself into fear and loathing, these feelings only make things worse. Yep, I know that one too.
The third sign of emotional eating is that you eat when you’re not hungry
I don’t mean a chocolate or some nuts during a film or dessert after dinner, that’s normal, what I mean is constantly turning to food when you’re not hungry. For example, eating lunch and 10 minutes later having a bar of chocolate before your next meeting, or grabbing a cake before any of the family come home.
So, if you’ve recognised yourself in my description, maybe you’re an emotional eater, but I want you to know that you’re not alone. In fact, you’re in good company because there are millions of people around the world who also struggle too. I was one of them, still could be if I wasn’t mindful.