How to End Emotional Eating
And lose weight for good!
Are you an emotional eater? Do you turn to food when you’re stressed, sad, bored, lonely, or anxious?
If that sounds like you, you’re not alone. According to research from the University of New Hampshire, nearly half of all adults in the U.S. are “emotional eaters.” That means they routinely turn to food to deal with negative emotions instead of using healthier coping strategies like talking to friends or going for a walk. It’s normal and natural to reach for something sweet when we’re feeling blue. But in today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to become an emotional eater and use food as a substitute for real human connection.
What is an emotional eater?
Emotional eaters turn to food when they are stressed, bored or lonely. It’s a coping mechanism that may have started in childhood or teenage years when you didn’t know any other way to deal with negative feelings.
If this sounds like you, you’re probably dealing with some form of disordered eating. There are many different types of disordered eating, but emotional eating is the most common type of eating disorder. It’s a pattern of behaviour that is either not intended or doesn’t serve a useful purpose.
People who struggle with emotional eating often have a distorted relationship with food. They may think about food all the time, wish they could just stop eating, and feel out of control around food.
How to Recognise the Signs of Emotional Eating
- You turn to food when you’re bored, stressed, or sad;
- You’re eating more than usual;
- You’re eating a lot more than your friends;
- You eat without any enjoyment or pleasure;
- You feel guilty or ashamed after eating;
- You feel out of control around food;
- You feel depressed or anxious.
The Dangers of Being an Emotional Eater
If you’re an emotional eater, you are probably well aware of the pitfalls associated with this habit. You know that it’s unhealthy and that it will negatively impact your well-being. However, you may not fully comprehend the lasting and long-term effects of this habit.
When you’re an emotional eater, you are at risk for a number of negative short-term and long-term effects, including:
Weight gain. Emotional eaters tend to weigh more than their non-eating disordered counterparts, and this is due to the fact that the body does not metabolize food properly when it’s consumed as a way of coping with stress;
Negative self-esteem. If you’re constantly turning to food to cope with negative emotions, you’re likely struggling with body image issues and a lack of self-esteem;
Digestive issues. When you consume large amounts of sugary or high-fat foods, you’re putting your digestive system at risk.
3 Tips to Stop Emotional Eating for Good
- Practice self-compassion. When you’re in the throes of negative emotion, it’s easy to turn to food as a temporary solution. But, in the long term, this habit is only harming you. Be kind to yourself by finding other healthy ways to deal with stress, sadness, and other negative emotions;
- Try new coping strategies. Experiment with relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga. Try journaling or calling a friend when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Mix things up and challenge yourself to use a new coping strategy each week;
- Reward positive behaviour. When you successfully kick the habit of emotional eating, be sure to reward yourself. This will help you stay motivated and prevent you from falling back into old habits.
Emotional eating is a common eating disorder that happens when you turn to food when you’re stressed, sad, bored, lonely, or anxious. It’s normal and natural to reach for something sweet when we’re feeling blue. But in today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to become an emotional eater and use food as a substitute for real human connection.
When you’re an emotional eater, you are at risk for a number of negative short-term and long-term effects. Be sure to practice self-compassion when you’re in the throes of negative emotion and try new coping strategies to kick this habit for good.