Emotional Eating -Eating In Response to Feelings

The holidays can be filled with joy for most but is often extremely stressful. We place such high expectations on what we buy, the parties we give or go to and the food we prepare.  All this is usually on top of our already hectic, crazy lives. Many may already be emotional eaters but this situation is aggravated at Christmas.

Here are some of the styles of emotional eating:

Head Hunger – to soothe feelings or emotions such as stress, happiness, or boredom

Taste Hunger – eating beyond fullness because it tastes so good

See Food Hunger – eat larger portions than needed “because it’s there”

Habit Hunger – you have a specific routine and eat even when you are not hungry

Distracted Hunger – Eat with distractions such as working, reading, watching TV, socializing and you don’t notice what you are eating and only stop when your plate is empty

Here are sign that you are experiencing emotional hunger:

  • Hunger comes on suddenly
  • You crave a specific food and only that food will meet your need
  • Must be satisfied RIGHT NOW with what you crave
  • May eat well beyond the point of physical fullness
  • Feel guilty after having eaten

If you experience any of the above, you know that you are eating not because you are hungry but for emotional reasons. You are now able to recognize the difference between physical and emotional hunger.

Here are a few strategies you might try:

  • Drink water – sometimes we think we are hungry but we are actually thirsty.
  • Go for a walk – alone if necessary, to get away from the food and crowds.
  • Determine what triggered the sudden craving that made you emotional – you may not be able to solve the issue that makes you feel this way right now but at least you recognize the source of the emotion you are feeling.
  • If you are going to be eating anyway, make sure you REALLY like what you are eating – take the time to savour it. If the food does not provide extreme satisfaction, stop eating.
  • Walk away from the situation that is making you anxious. You can’t change people; you can only change your reaction to them.

I hope that this helps you with your emotional eating…or at least get you to realize what you are doing.

Have fun and I wish you all the best.


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