Do you feel like you might be someone who has trouble sticking to a diet or healthy eating plan due to your ongoing struggle with emotional eating? If so, you may wonder if your tendency to over-eating or succumb to cravings is actually related to your emotions, or if some other problem is affecting you, such as poor metabolism or not getting enough exercise.
Emotional Eating That You Have Probably Experienced
Let’s look at common examples of emotional eating, everyday scenarios where you might feel hungry as an emotional response. Is it a real and true need for sustenance? Or is your body just reacting to something that has thrown off your mental equilibrium, aka made you emotional?
When you think of emotional eating, you probably immediately envision that cliché scene, where the lady has been dumped by her boyfriend and must now drown her sorrows in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Maybe you have even been that lady (or that guy). Heck, who hasn’t decided to over-indulge because we’re feeling heartbroken, lonely, overwhelmed, or something else?
For sure, that example could be considered emotional eating… BUT maybe you don’t realize that there are plenty of other daily scenarios that crop up, which could put you in the category of emotional eater. You don’t have to be full-on weeping or raging angry to qualify as an emotional eater.
Emotional Eating, Example 1: Tough Day
You eat when you’re frazzled after a busy day. We don’t mean dinner. This refers more to that afternoon sugar binge that so many people have trouble giving up even after they commit to a rigorous overhaul of their eating and exercise habits. Maybe you had a harrowing near-car accident on the way home from lunch. Maybe your boss is in rare form, coming down on you and everyone else. You might have argued senselessly on the phone with your spouse. These are relatively typical scenarios that would not warrant a meltdown or tantrum or anything like that. But still, you find yourself reaching for that box of donuts to make the problems go away faster.
Emotional Eating, Example 2: You Need Love And Affection
We all have an emotional need for intimacy, and everyone experiences that sense of lack, no matter what their marital or relationship status. Perhaps you’re overdue for a nice massage, a few smooches, and some warm hugs… but your hubby is headed off on a 3-day hunting trip. Regular affection does the body well, releasing beneficial brain chemicals such as serotonin and oxytocin. When we don’t get it, our brain asks, “Where else can I find that high?” It could be at the bottom of a box of Oreos.
Emotional Eating, Example 3: You’re Bored
For some people, daily life with its repeat cycles of day-in-day-out monotony can head us down a pessimistic path from time to time. Those dark feelings of futility may be exacerbated by your physical state as well. You might be low on exercise and in need of a good endorphin rush. Or, maybe you need to snap out of your funk, but you aren’t sure how to go about it. A trip to the ice cream shop or a slice of pie at the diner could break the cycle, couldn’t it? Ah, but now all you want to do is a nap! And so, the pattern repeats.
Emotional Eating, Example 4: You’re Playing An Avoidance Game
Sometimes life’s pressing problems wreak havoc on our emotional wellbeing. That doesn’t mean someone’s going to find you sobbing hopelessly into your cup of morning coffee. But there could be a nagging sensation in the back of your mind that it’s time to take action, but you don’t know what to do. So you avoid making a decision even though your soul is crying out for a change. This produces feelings of anxiety for many people, leading to food cravings as we attempt to cope.
Emotional Eating, Example 5: The Poop Is Hitting The Fan
Sometimes everything seems to go wrong at once. The kids have all come down with the flu during finals week. Your car needs a major repair at the same time that taxes are due. The roof needs replacing, and you just found out you’re probably not getting that promotion after all. It’s what you’d call a bad day, maybe even a bad week that can easily spiral into a bad month… and starting to seem like a good time to bag the diet and treat yourself to a couple of cheeseburgers.
Enough of the examples of emotional eating? Yeah… It could become depressing just reading about them. Pretty much…