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When life gives us lemons, we tend to indulge in the entire lemon meringue pie! Regardless of how sad, happy, frustrated or stressed out we feel, eating our favourite foods and rushing to the fast food chains we often visit becomes the perfect excuse for healing those adrenaline-pumped emotions, which find solace and comfort in a slice of cake, or a juicy burger dripping with calories.
Emotional eating, by definition is using food to make yourself feel better, and is a form of eating that satiates an emotional need, rather than the physical one.
Occasionally binging on your favorite comfort foods, or eating to celebrate isn’t a bad thing. But when eating becomes your main focus, and your usual way of emotionally coping with a problem, then you get stuck in a damaging cycle where the real feeling or problem is never addressed or resolved.
So how do you know you’re an emotional eater?
1. Do you order in or pick up junk food when you are feeling stressed?
2. Do you reward yourself with food, and do you do it often?
3. Do you eat to feel better?
What is the difference between emotional eating and regular eating?
Emotional hunger only desires and craves certain comfort foods. When you’re physically hungry, anything and everything sounds and looks good-including healthy stuff like vegetables and fruits.
But emotional hunger craves junk food, and snacks high in sodium and sugar, that provide an instant rush or feeling of gratification.
Emotional hunger often leads to mindless eating. Before you know it, you’ve chowed down a whole bag of chips or an entire pint of ice cream without really paying attention or fully enjoying it.
But on the other hand, when you’re eating in response to physical hunger, you’re typically more aware of what you’re doing.
Emotional hunger isn’t satiated once you’re full, and even though your stomach has had enough, your mind and heart keep begging for more, and this pattern repeats itself till you’re stuffed to a point where it gets uncomfortable.
Physical hunger, on the other hand, doesn’t need to be stuffed. You feel satisfied when your stomach is full, and you’re not splitting at the seams either.
What causes emotional eating?
1. Chronic stress: It all starts and stops here. When stress is chronic, your body produces high levels cortisol, which is a stress hormone.
Cortisol triggers cravings for salty, sweet, and fried foods, and typically all kinds of food that give you a temporary feeling of pleasure and energy.
2. Boredom: At the end of the day, we are all humans, and have a need to connect with others. When we’re lonely, or lack a social life, we turn to food to fill that insatiable void.
3. Childhood habits: As a child, did your parents treat you with ice cream, donuts, or cake whenever you did well at school or felt low?