Are you an Emotional Eater?

May 27, 2016

Do you sometimes find yourself at the refrigerator door at unusual times?  Do you have a hard time stopping after one cookie or half the bag?  Ever notice that you eat a bigger meal after a hard day at work?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s possible that eating is a coping mechanism for you to satisfy your emotional needs, instead of a way to satisfy your hunger.

Emotional eating is common.  We’ve all been there.  But, when emotional eating affects your weight, health and overall well being, it may be time to understand what drives those habits.

Often, people seek the comfort or distraction of food when experiencing negative feelings like stress, loneliness, sadness, anxiety and boredom.  These may come to us through major life events like death and divorce.  But, more often, it’s the daily stresses in our lives.

In addition, positive feelings may trigger overeating at the holiday celebration or indulging in dessert after a romantic dinner.  Or, it may come from a learned behavior.  For example, a child who is given candy for a job well done may associate food as a reward later in life.  Or, the child who is given a cookie to stop crying may continue to soothe hurt feelings with cookies.

Whatever the cause may be for emotional eating, the end result is often the same: an unhealthy cycle continues.  Your emotions trigger you to overeat, you beat yourself up for getting off your weight loss track, you feel bad and you overeat again.  If you’ve tried self-help options, but still can’t control emotional eating, consider professional help.