Are You An Emotional or Stress Eater?

Dec 08, 2021
Are You An Emotional or Stress Eater?
There comes a time where many of us are emotional eaters, and we use food to “feel better”. For a lot of us, this results in us feeling down because we know – it wasn’t our original intention. More importantly, it’s not going to solve our problems...

There comes a time where many of us are emotional eaters, and we use food to “feel better”. For a lot of us, this results in us feeling down because we know – it wasn’t our original intention. More importantly, it’s not going to solve our problems and we’re stuck feeling guilty about what we’ve done.

Emotional eating is a pattern of eating where people use food to help them deal with stressful situations. Let’s face it, stressful situations occur every day, and if we’re going to succeed with our health goals, we must put an end to it. It’ll be a challenge, and it will take consistency, but YOU CAN DO IT!

Losing weight is essential to being healthy. Weight loss contains many benefits for your overall health and if you can make change, many powerful things will happen. Most of all, you will have better energy levels and will feel better about your overall physical appearance.

Many people experience emotional eating during a particular phase of their life. Some may even have multiple phases. An example of emotional eating could be when someone eats unhealthy snacks because they’re bored. Or feeling like they deserve eating a dessert or chocolate bar after a long day at work. When emotional and stress eating happens too frequently, it becomes a habit, and it must come to an end. At this point, it becomes the primary way a person deals with their emotions, life, health, happiness, and weight. Which in return, their health is negatively affected.

Key Points to Emotional and Stress Eating:

  • Sometimes, emotional and stress eating is triggered by stress or strong emotions.
  • There are physical and psychological causes for emotional and stress eating.
  • Coping strategies can help a person trying to alleviate the most severe symptoms.

Know Your Triggers and How to Avoid Them:

  • Boredom, having nothing to do, or having to get up in the morning is a common emotional trigger. Many people live a very stimulating and active life and when they have nothing to do, they will turn to food to fill the gap.
  • Habits are driven by nostalgia or things that happened in a person’s childhood. Something as simple as having ice cream after a good report card or baking cookies is an example.
  • When you are tired, it is very easy to overeat or eat mindlessly when you’re fatigued.
  • Social influences can either encourage or hinder you. Everyone has that friend or family member who encourages them to get a slice of pizza or go out for drinks and splurge after a hard day. Many people tend to overeat with friends & family.

New Vitality Centers can help you start a custom weight loss plan that is sustainable as a lifestyle. Let’s be real, you can’t just lose weight and go back to the lifestyle you were living. Otherwise, you’ll fall back into old habits, and you won’t have any progress. We aren’t saying you can’t enjoy a snack here and there or a drink once in a blue moon but staying committed to a plan that’ll benefit your health is key! Everything comes in moderation.

The first step to eliminating emotional or stress eating is to recognize the triggers and situations that apply to your life. Keeping a food diary or journal can help to identify situations when someone is more likely to eat because of emotions instead of physical hunger.

Things to Keep Track Of:

  • Patterns of hunger levels and what time of day it is.
  • What you are doing and if it is tedious or unpleasant.
  • What are you feeling, whether you are bored, angry, or happy? (Most common)

It is very common for people to struggle with difficult or uncomfortable feelings and emotions. There is an instinct or need to quickly fix or destroy those bad feelings. Emotional eating isn’t just linked to negative emotions. Eating a lot of candy on Halloween or too much food on Thanksgiving are examples of “eating because of a holiday itself”. Emotional eating can be associated with a celebration.

High cortisol levels from stress can increase food cravings for sugary or fatty foods. Stress is also associated with increased hunger hormones, which may also contribute to cravings for unhealthy foods.

Research shows that women are more likely to use food to deal with stress than men are while men are more likely than women to smoke or use alcohol.

Emotional Hunger Vs. Physical Hunger

It is very easy to mistake emotional hunger for physical hunger. There are characteristics that distinguish between the two. Recognizing the difference is a huge first step towards helping to stop emotional eating patterns.

  • Emotional hunger tends to hit quickly and feels urgent.
  • Emotional hunger is usually associated with cravings for junk food or something unhealthy.
  • Emotional hunger does not originate from the stomach such as when your stomach growls.
  • Emotional hunger starts with a person thinking about a craving or wanting something specific.
  • Emotional hunger leaves you feeling guilty.
  • Physical hunger is not as urgent or sudden.
  • Physical hunger you will eat anything.
  • Physical hunger satisfies the body with nutrients.

Mindless Eating

Yes, there is such a thing as mindless eating. This is when someone eats without paying attention to how much they consume. This can happen when you are watching TV or standing over the buffet at a cocktail party, or even when you’re working on a project at your desk. Some people always have a snack while they are driving, there are endless examples of mindless eating.

Bottom Line

Emotional eating is a common experience and is not usually associated with physical hunger. Some people give into it, while others can find that it impacts their lives and becomes a bad habit. It may even threaten their health and mental well-being. Many individuals will eat in the middle of the night.

Do you really think that they are hungry at 2am?

After eating and filling up the stomach in the wee hours of the night, one may notice that it’s more difficult to have a good night’s sleep. Not to mention, it won’t allow the body to experience the healing effects of resting. Anyone who experiences negative emotions (guilt) around their eating habits should arrange a visit to a healthcare provider to discuss their issues and attack them head on. They must have the mindset to be ready to make change as they are the only one that can do it for themselves. Remember, everything that goes into your mouth counts! This is one reason why it’s good to start a program such as New Vitality Center’s Weight Loss Program. We provide our clients with accountability and coaching throughout the process.