Emotional eating is the tendency to turn to food as a way to cope with or manage emotions. This can include using food to numb or distract from difficult feelings like stress, anxiety, sadness, or boredom. Emotional eating can lead to overeating and weight gain, and can also interfere with an individual's ability to make healthy choices about food.
Some common triggers for emotional eating include:
- Low self-esteem
Emotional eating: like all types of disordered eating, emotional eating is more common among women than men… It is estimated that 75% of overeating is due to emotional stress. Emotional eaters turn to foods that are high in fat and calories because they can provide temporary pleasure and comfort. In the book ‘French Toast for Breakfast, ‘ author Mary Ann Cohen defines emotional eating as “being hungry from the heart and not from the stomach”
People who struggle with emotional eating have difficulty identifying and processing their emotions. If you are an emotional eater and want to change, becoming more aware of your emotions is a crucial step towards healing. Try looking at the feelings list to assist you with tuning in to your emotions. These emotions may lead you to eat when you aren’t physically hungry. To avoid overeating first try to identify what it is you are feeling. If it isn’t physical hunger than what is it? Take the emotional eating quiz
Strategies for managing emotional eating include:
- Identifying the underlying emotions that trigger your cravings
- Finding alternative ways to cope with emotions such as exercise, talking to a friend, meditating, or writing in a journal
- Planning healthy meals and snacks ahead of time to avoid impulsive eating
- Keeping a food diary to track your eating habits and triggers
- Practicing mindful eating by paying attention to your hunger and fullness cues
- Seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor
It's important to remember that emotional eating is a common challenge and it's not about having will power, it's about understanding and addressing the underlying emotional issues that lead to it, and finding healthy ways to cope.
Here are a few interesting facts about emotional eating:
- Emotional eating is common: Many people turn to food as a way to cope with negative emotions such as stress, anxiety, or boredom.
- Emotional eating is not limited to specific foods: People who emotionally eat may crave any type of food, from sugary treats to salty snacks, and from carbs to fatty foods.
- Emotional eating is not limited to overweight people: People of all shapes and sizes can experience emotional eating.
- Emotional eating is a learned behavior: People who emotionally eat may have learned to use food as a coping mechanism in childhood or adolescence.
- Emotional eating is often accompanied by guilt: People who emotionally eat often feel guilty or ashamed about their behavior, which can lead to further emotional distress.
- Emotional eating can lead to weight gain: Consistently eating in response to emotions rather than hunger can contribute to weight gain over time.
- Emotional eating can be treated: Therapy, counseling, and support groups can help individuals to identify and address the underlying emotional issues that contribute to emotional eating.
- Mindful eating can be helpful: Mindful eating, which involves paying attention to the experience of eating and focusing on hunger and fullness cues, can help to reduce emotional eating.
It's important to remember that emotional eating is a complex issue that can be influenced by many factors. It is not a sign of weakness or a moral failing, but rather a common struggle that can be addressed with the help of a professional eating disorder therapist.
To self schedule an inperson or a virtual therapy appointment at TCFG or call 215 922 5683 x 100 and speak with a therapist who specializes in eating disorder treatment today. We have therapy offices in Philadelphia PA, Ocean City NJ, Mechanicsville VA, Santa Fe New Mexico and we work with people virtually in Delaware, Florida and Georgia.