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Emotional Eating


What Is Emotional Eating And How To Control It

Have you ever found yourself guilt of devouring that whole bucket of crisps just because you were feeling low? If you can relate to this then let us break the news to you, that you are not alone. In fact. Many people get their perception altered and choose food to battle depression and any other negative feeling. Keeping the fact into consideration that eating delicious food can actually uplift our mood, it is understood to binge eat the entire bucket of ice cream or winter bar of chocolate alone. Yet, the thing that needs a check here is, how often you are taking the help of food to battle your turmoils.


What is emotional eating?


Emotional eating or comfort eating is when you eat to make yourself feel better, instead of to feed your stomach. Emotional eating, however, does not solve emotional issues. In most cases, it makes you feel worse. Not only does the underlying emotional issue persist, but you also feel terrible about overeating as a result of it.


We do not often eat to fulfil our bodily needs. Many of us use food as a source of comfort, stress reduction, or reward. We prefer to grab junk food, sweets, and other soothing but unhealthy items when we are in this situation. When you're feeling down, grab a pint of ice cream, order a pizza if you're bored or lonely, or stop by the drive-through after a hard day at work.


Signs of emotional eating


      Bingeing on food while you are anxious and stressed


When you have a lot on your plate (job, school, examinations), you instinctively grab for food. It's mostly bad when you're up late at night and alone, but it may also happen during the day and in front of people.


      Eating becomes your response to any emotions


When you're unhappy, upset, disappointed, furious, lonely, empty, nervous, weary, or bored, you eat. It's a reflex that's so deeply ingrained in you that you don't even notice it. When you're experiencing those feelings, you instinctively grab for food.


      You eat out of control and usually have no count on it 


You eat especially when you aren't hungry, and you keep eating long after you should have stopped. Your hunger for food appears to have taken on a life of its own. You could even go out of your way to obtain food or to fulfil a particular need, even if you aren't hungry.


      You eat when you are not hungry


When you eat to cope with stress, food becomes your coping technique. As a result, anytime you are confronted with a scenario that is emotionally draining, you just resort to food. When you're dealing with emotional eating, you'll find yourself craving food even when you're full.


      Food makes you feel happy


You're psychologically reliant on eating, relying on it to make you happy. Even though eating is nothing more than a neutral activity that helps you survive, like breathing, drinking water, and passing waste, it gives you good emotions. This is distinct from savouring food while you consume it, which I support wholeheartedly. This is about eating for the sole purpose of obtaining a sensation of enjoyment, resulting in an unbalanced relationship.


      You used emotional words to describe food


Even though food is a non-living entity incapable of experiencing or returning your love/hate, you use emotionally-laden adjectives to describe food/eating, such as "sinful," "decadent," "guilt-ridden," "passion," "desire," "indulgence," "tempting," "yearning," "intriguing," and so on.


      You use food as a reward


Treating yourself to a hot chocolate brownie and a cold scoop of ice cream on cheat days is OK, but using food as a reward excessively is a red flag. This implies that ordering food for every job or assignment you finish on a daily basis isn't a healthy connection with eating.


Stress eating and pandemic

On cheat days, it's fine to treat yourself to a hot chocolate brownie and a cold scoop of ice cream, but overusing food as a reward is a warning sign. This means that ordering meals for each task or assignment you complete on a daily basis isn't a healthy relationship with food, reported by Virginia News.


People are frequently worried and nervous due to a plethora of unknowns. Also, the essence of seclusion is altering people's eating habits, which can be linked to both food and grocery shop excursions. Those trends have shifted. What do you have in stock and on hand? Many people's finances are [changing]. Then there are the health concerns, whether it be food safety, immunity, or larger-picture issues, both personal and community-wide.


Emotional eating cycle

As reported by Help Guide it's not always a terrible thing to use food as a pick-me-up, a reward, or a celebration. However, if eating is your major emotional coping mechanism—if your first instinct is to open the refrigerator anytime you're worried, sad, angry, lonely, fatigued, or bored—you'll find yourself trapped in an unhealthy loop in which the true feeling or issue is never treated.


The truth is, food can only give you momentary gratification and it can not satisfy your emotional hunger. Gulping down your favourite food make sound extremely soothing that the moment, yet the sentiments that proved eating will remain the same. Moreover, the extra calories you've just ingested typically make you feel worse than you did before.


You cease learning better methods to deal with your emotions, you have a harder time regulating your weight, and you feel increasingly helpless over both food and your moods, which exacerbates the situation. However, you can still choose to make better adjustments no matter how weak you feel with food. You can stress on finding better ways to deal with emotions by avoiding triggers. With a little bit of control, you can successfully overcome the habit of emotional eating.


Studies and researches on emotional eating


      This is how biology works for some people


The word "stress eating" holds a lot of reality. People are pushed to overeat by stress, the chemicals it releases, and the impact of high-fat, sugary "comfort foods." Weight gain has been linked to stress by researchers, and according to an American Psychological Association poll, one-fourth of Americans assess their stress level as 8 or higher on a 10-point scale. However, in certain people, the fight or flight hormone is activated, resulting in apatite loss.


      Your friends impact your eating habits


As per the headline of research published in the journal Appetite by Mary Howland, Jeffrey Hunger, and Traci Mann (2012). Friends have an influence on how you feel about eating. Two out of three friends were covertly told to restrict enticing meals while in the company of a third buddy in their ingenious research. What's the end result? The third individual ate less when they were among these buddies and continued to do so when they were alone. Dr Julie Exline, a researcher at Case Western Reserve University, discovered that people-pleasers are especially prone to eating to make others feel relaxed, even though they're not hungry, in a separate study.


      Sleep can aid you with stress/emotional eating


Exhaustion and a lack of energy might have a negative impact on your eating habits. Rochester participants who received 2/3 of their regular sleep time ate more food than those who got their normal sleep duration, according to a 2012 research by Andrew Calvin, a fellow in cardiovascular disease and associate professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic.


      Stress and workload throw you into emotional eating


People who agreed that they were burned out schedule at work ate more emotionally and uncontrollably. It comes as no surprise. Chronic stress affects your cortisol levels, the stress hormone, regardless of where it originates from. Cortisol levels rise, making you want sweet, greasy meals.


Tips to overcome stress eating


      Understand your emotions


You must be able to recognise the sense of indifference in order to be able to quit eating when you are emotional. It may sound stupid, but it is really important! We don't like to experience unpleasant feelings as humans. That's just the way we're built. As a result, you may turn to food without even recognising you're worried.


      Do exercise


Exercise boosts your energy levels while also acting as a strong stress reliever. And getting into the habit of exercising isn't as difficult as you would imagine.



      Find better ways to cope up with your feelings


If you’re discouraged or rejected, make a phone call to someone who always cheers you up, plays with your dog or cat, or look at a favouriphoto or cherished memory.

If you’re worried, dance to your favourite music, squeeze a stress ball or go for a quick stroll to release your anxious energy.

If you’re drained, take a nice bath, light some fragrances, or cuddle yourself up in a warm blanket to pamper yourself.

If you’re bored, read a nice book, watch a comedy programme, go for a walk in the park, or do something else you like (woodworking, playing the guitar, shooting hoops, scrapbooking, etc.).

      Talk to your friends

Don't undervalue the value of intimate friendships and social activities. Spending time with good individuals who add value to your life might help you avoid the bad consequences of anxiety.

      Take medical help

To be honest, once you start relying on food there is no comeback. Hence despite the many fair chances you gave to yourself if you are not able to take break the pattern, do consult the doctor as soon as possible.


We hope now you have got the gist of emotional eating and have come across a few tricks to overcome it. To know more about such things, be active on WellEQ, a supportive platform for holistic wellbeing.