5 Signs To Know You Are An Emotional EaterApr 13, 2021
Does that sound like you? You come home from a hard day at work, it was a tough day, you're frustrated and all you wanna do is chill on your sofa and enjoy a bag of cookies? Do you head to the fridge whenever you're lonely, sad, stressed, upset, angry, or bored?
If this does sound like you, you might be an emotional eater, meaning you're using food as a tool to deal with your emotions, most often negative ones. You often eat without being hungry and you fear certain foods.
I think it's important to mention first, emotional eating isn't all bad. When we're stressed, or worried, for example, it's very common to opt for food to deal with our emotions. We're craving food in those moments as it's our body's way to signal us that something isn't right.
It's our brain that craves comfort and relief and it knows that one of the quickest ways is getting it through food. When you're eating emotionally, you usually crave food high in sugar or fat because they initiate a chemical reaction in your brain.
Comfort foods release dopamine and serotonin, the feel-good hormones, into our systems. That is why you initially feel great after eating such food, but not long after you'll end up being swallowed by guilt and shame.
BUT the problem arises when emotional eating is the only tool in your self-care toolbox. Sometimes it's ok to opt for food as a means to cope with your emotions but it should be the only way.
When we end up eating due to emotional cravings rather than physical ones, it can quickly lead to overeating. Worse, it might end up in an unhealthy relationship with food if you're not dealing with your root problems for a long period of time. Now let's look at some signs that indicate you might be an emotional eater.
5 Signs To Know You Are An Emotional Eater
1. You eat when you're sad, stressed, anxious, etc.
Whenever a negative emotion arises, you search for food knowing it will make you feel better in the moment. If that sounds like you, chances are high that you're an emotional eater.
The urge to head to the fridge first thing a new emotion arrives (it can even be positive ones) is an eating pattern that has most likely become hardwired into your brain. It has become a habit that you might not even be aware of.
In those circumstances, it's hard to resist food because as mentioned previously, your brain knows that food will give you a quick fix. It's ok to sometimes use food to cope with emotions.
But it does not help you identify the actual problem. The root of what is causing you distress will never be dealt with and you'll continue living in a spiral of self-destruction.
2. You crave something really specific
If you're craving specific foods, like chocolate or cookies, you're not actually hungry. It's an emotional hunger and not a physical one. If you were truly hungry, you'd be happy with any food.
But as an emotional eater, you crave food that you've associated with comfort and good moments in the past.
It doesn't matter what the food is that you crave, you feel like you absolutely need to eat that specific food in that moment. And if you don't you'd feel unsatisfied and unhappy for the rest of the day.
3. You feel guilty and ashamed for eating
When you eat because you're physically hungry you're unlikely to feel guilty or ashamed. You're simply following your natural rhythm and are giving your body what it needs.
When you're physically hungry, it's easy for you to stop when you've had enough and your cravings are satisfied. But when you eat emotionally, your urge to eat is not driven by your body's cues.
That's why it often feels like you have no control over what is happening. Chances are high that you end up binging and eating way past your fullness level. Once you realize what just happened, that you've overeaten, feelings of guilt, shame, regret, or unworthiness arise.
You might even feel disgusted by yourself, I sure used to feel that way A LOT. Those emotions are e clear signal that you're eating as a means to cope with your emotions.
4. You use food as a reward
We tend to use food as some sort of reward because that's what we've learned when growing up. I'm sure your parents also rewarded you with food.
For example, I was allowed to eat dessert if I finished my vegetables. Sometimes I received chocolate when I had good grades. No matter the scenario, if you find that you're rewarding yourself with food, you're probably an emotional eater.
It's ok to reward yourself with food from time to time but try not to do it too often because this can lead you to dive deeper into the cycle of emotional eating.
5. You eat when you're bored
I wanted to add this one on here because I had quite a few clients who struggled with this. They were unaware of how much food they're consuming throughout the day simply because they're bored.
This might even happen that to pass time you end up walking to the kitchen on several occasions just to nibble on some snacks that are lying around.
Healing From Emotional Eating
Did some of those signs feel familiar to you? If yes, there's no need to worry. Know that it is possible to heal from emotional eating. I used to be in your position and if I can do it so can you!
What you need to do is find other ways to deal with your emotions and reprogram your mind so that you do not automatically reach for food when those triggering feelings arise. I'm not gonna lie, it does take time and you'll need to put in some work, but it's all SO worth it.
You'll not only experience a healthier relationship with food, but you'll also feel much more energized, happier, and fulfilled.
Want to break free from emotional eating but don't want to go on this journey alone? Book your FREE 30-min Manifesting Food Freedom Strategy Session with me right here. Or download the free pdf guide that gives you the step-by-step roadmap to heal from emotional eating.
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