So, what is emotional eating anyway? And is it really a big deal?
Emotional overeating is eating to avoid or stuff down uncomfortable feelings. You eat to cope with life. You eat for reasons other than physical hunger and the nourishment of your body.
Emotional eating comes in many forms. You could be eating because you’re:
- – angry
- – depressed
- – scared
- – anxious
- – bored
- – tired
- – hurt
- – lonely
- – discouraged
Some people even eat to calm themselves down when they are overly happy or excited.
Basically, if you’re eating in response to a difficult situation, when you’re not physically hungry, then you’re probably eating emotionally.
It’s been estimated that 75% of overeating is due to emotional reasons.
Emotional eaters usually choose sweet or salty comfort foods like chocolate, sweets, chips, pizza, cookies or other ‘bad’ foods. They usually eat a lot of this type of food in a very short time (this kind of behavior is often called a binge).
They may feel frenzied or hurried, anxious to get it all down – or they may simply graze on food constantly just to get through the day.
Emotional overeaters usually eat way past the normal feeling of fullness. They usually feel emotions like guilt and regret after eating.
So, what’s the big deal? Doesn’t everyone use food to cope sometimes?
Yes. To some extent it’s fairly normal to eat out of our emotions occasionally. We all do it – even thin people have days when they just need a cheeseburger or piece of chocolate for a pick-me-up.
However emotional eating becomes a problem when it sabotages our weight loss. When it starts to take over our lives and when food becomes our ‘drug of choice’ to handle any kind of difficult emotion.
According to Dr Roger Gould, the creator of the Shrink Yourself program:
“Emotional Eating makes it impossible to lose weight and keep it off despite good intentions.
Food has become so much more than a tasty treat. It has become a cure-all; something with magical properties that makes people feel great.
It takes hard work to give up the magic and have to learn more effective ways to handle the tension of life. The Emotional Eater must learn to let food go psychologically and then they can lose weight.”
If you’ve struggled for years trying to lose weight with diets, pills, potions or even considered surgery, you may be an emotional overeater.
And until this is addressed, you will never permanently lose weight. Diets will not work for you – because they don’t get at the root of why you overeat.
The good news is that if you are an emotional eater – you can now start fixing the root of the problem. Once you address the real cause of why you overeat, the weight will come off and stay off.