The first step is awareness, recognizing that you do eat emotionally and WHY. Each time you reach for foods (or even feel a craving come on), ask yourself, "Am I really hungry or am I just responding to something else that is happening with me?" If hunger isn't the reason, it's not always easy to pinpoint the reason why you feel like eating. Eating is more than something we do to nourish our bodies with vital nutrients. It's also an activity we do out of habit, like nail biting, hair twirling, or finger tapping. And sometimes, we habitually turn to food in response to certain emotions. Whether you feel angry, sad, bored even excited food can act as a buffer against these emotions.
Emotional eaters know that it's easier to stuff down our feelings with each bite we take. We know that the fleeting "high" we get from food blocks the pain or discomfort of dealing we might be feeling, even if only temporarily. We also know better; in the long run, we still feel bad and we know that we shouldn't eat for purely emotional reasons. Emotional eating is eating as a way to suppress or soothe negative emotions, such as stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness and loneliness. Both major life events and the hassles of daily life can trigger negative emotions that lead to emotional eating and disrupt your weight-loss efforts. These triggers may include:
- Financial pressure
- Health problems
- Relationship conflicts
- Work stress
Although some people actually eat less in the face of strong emotions, if you're in emotional distress you may turn to impulsive or binge eating you may rapidly eat whatever is convenient, without even enjoying it. Whatever emotions drive you to overeat, the end result is often the same. The emotions return, and you may also now bear the additional burden of guilt about setting back your weight-loss goal. Think of the outcome every time you go to put something bad into your mouth.