Emotional eaters often start the habitual pattern of turning to food for comfort, solace and to stuff down pain over something that happened in their history and long after the incident has passed, the emotional eating trigger remains. While once it was functional - it now has them trapped.
Many times our eating for emotional reasons became a conditioned response when we weren't allowed to feel our emotions - it was unacceptable to be angry (for example). Now when we're hungry, we immediately become 'Hangry.'
I'd rather try to eat my problems away than resorting to alcohol or drugs, self-mutilation or even suicide. Treat your emotional eating as a language trying to tell you something. Be a detective..what are your emotional triggers? Make some notes for yourself:
1. What are your comfort eating triggers? You'll start to see patterns emerging.
The worst part of comfort eating is the way we beat ourselves up. Given the way our molecules of emotion affect our biochemistry its probaby way more health-eroding than the comfort eating itself.
• Take note what and when you eat as well as what stressors (people, places, circumstances), thoughts and emotions you're eating for.
• Are you waiting too long to eat, resulting in low blood sugar? How do you know what is true hunger? Intuitive eating would be really helpful for you.
• Is there a particular time of day that you always feel like snacking? Why? For example, if you live on your own and as soon as you walk through your front door your find yourself heading to the food cupboard - could it be because you're lonely?
2. Learn to tell the difference between physical and emotional hungers.
According to the University of Texas Counseling and Mental Health Centre emotional hunger comes on suddenly, physical hunger occurs gradually.
• When you are eating to fill an emotional void you crave a specific food such as pizza or ice cream and only that food will meet your need. But eating for physiological hunger leaves you more open to various food options.
• Emotional hunger feels like it needs to be satisfied instantly with the food you crave, unless you've left your physical hunger for too long, it doesn't feel that same urgent or frenetic intensity about it.
• Emotional eating is usually automatic or mindless eating
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