Food. How can something so simple cause so many problems? Some of us eat too much, some of us don’t eat enough. And some of us don’t eat for the right reasons.
What is emotional eating?
Defined as “the practice of consuming large quantities of food in response to feelings instead of hunger,” emotional eating is something each of us has probably engaged in at some point in our lives. Eating that pint of ice cream after a bad breakup or raiding your cabinets simply because you’re bored are two obvious examples of emotional eating. But depending on how disordered your eating habits are, turning to food for comfort might be something you do without even realizing it.
Are you an emotional eater?
If you experience any or all of the following, you probably have an unhealthy relationship with food:
While it’s important to recognize these signs of emotional eating, it’s also crucial to understand the root of it. Emotional eating doesn’t occur when you’re hungry, rather, it happens because you’re searching for a way to cope with feelings of discomfort. Instead of confronting those feelings, you might use food to distract yourself from them. This distraction won’t last long, however, and at the conclusion of a binge episode, you’ll feel worse than before you started. Not only will you still need to face the original problem, you’ll now have the added guilt component that accompanies emotional/binge eating.
Don’t allow your cycle of emotional eating to become crippling, instead, find comfort in the knowledge that there are plenty of resources to combat it. One of the most promising ways to fight emotional eating is through mindful eating.
What is mindful eating?
Just as you sleep when you’re tired or use the restroom when you need to relieve yourself, you should eat because you’re hungry, not for any other reason. Mindful eating is essentially the opposite of emotional eating. Instead of consuming food to cope with feelings, mindful eating focuses on using food as fuel and sustenance for your hunger.
Practicing mindful eating
Listed below are some helpful steps to take when practicing mindful eating:
Emotional eating is nothing to be ashamed of, in fact, this is the most common type of disordered eating. When you’re ready to seek help and make changes in your eating habits, reach out to a professional for guidance!