Enjoying Food, or Eating Emotionally?

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Written Angela Silva | Healthy-Mag.com

There is an abundance of delicious food all around us. We all have our go-to favorites when it comes to comfort food. But at what point does consuming our favorite foods turn into a coping mechanism for our stress or emotions?

Unfortunately, many people have become desensitized from their natural hunger and satiety cues because of emotional eating. This often leads to overeating and weight gain. It is all too easy to grab a sweet treat for a pick-me-up when we’re feeling down, regardless of if we’re truly, physically hungry.

So how can we realize if we are emotional eaters? It’s all about nailing down the “why” of our snack or meal: are you eating to feel better, or to fill your stomach? It is important to be able to recognize the physical symptoms of hunger. The next time you reach for a sweet treat, stop and ask yourself “Am I actually hungry?” Realizing that hunger is a physical response is the first step to realizing if we tend to eat for emotional purposes.

Another way to become aware of our emotional eating habits is to listen to our bodies as you eat. With portion sizes getting larger and larger, it can be easy to ignore our body’s signals and simply make ourselves eat whatever amount is in front of us. Especially when we are dealing with stressful emotions, mindlessly eating more than our bodies need and until we are uncomfortably full can be a problem. The next time you sit down to eat, let your body be the judge of how much you eat. Give yourself a small portion, and after eating it ask you “Am I still hungry?” If you are still hungry, give yourself permission to eat more. Repeat this process until you notice the physical feelings of hunger have disappeared.

If food is your common outlet for stress, sadness or other emotions, it is a tall order to just stop the habit. You’ll need to find other outlets. Remember that food can’t actually solve your problems in most cases. It is just a distraction that may actually contribute to the problem once your unnecessary food frenzy is ended.

Emotional Hunger: 3 Ways It Is Different Than Physical Hunger

  1. It comes all at once.
  2. It usually demands specific foods.
  3. It isn’t satisfied once you’re full.

Once emotional eating habits are assessed, then it is time to identify and deal with the underlying emotions that trigger the overeating or eating beyond satiation. Sometimes food can be an appropriate way to deal with our emotions, but excessive emotional eating can cause adverse health effects not only from overeating, but from the stress of those emotions as well. Dealing with those underlying issues head-on probably extends beyond the realm of food. Ultimately, erasing those triggers that cause the unnecessary will let you be in charge of not just your diet, but your life as well.

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