Emotional overeating: false appetite plus excess weight.

We don't always eat just to satisfy our hunger. Unfortunately, we also often turn to foods for "psychological help" - to restore mental comfort, in order to relieve stress, or eat as a reward - this is called "emotional overeating".

Emotional overeating

However, emotional overeating does not help to correct our mental problems and even, as a rule, makes us feel even worse: instead of satiety, the fear of gaining weight comes. Guilt for overeating... Learning to recognize the signs of emotional overeating and its causes (triggers) is the first step to freedom from food slavery!

The Emotional Eating Phenomenon

Emotional overeating is the use of food for other purposes, that is, not to replenish energy reserves in the body, but in order to feel better mentally. In fact, a person with the help of products is trying to fill the emotional needs - instead of filling the stomach. Binge eating, emotional hunger, eating disorders... This phenomenon has a lot of names. Understanding the causes and effects of emotional overeating will allow you to take control of this compulsive habit!

Of course, using food from time to time as a reward or holiday attribute isn't necessarily a bad thing. But when your main mental coping mechanism is food oriented, when your first impulse of a moment of stress, anger, boredom, anxiety or loneliness is to open the fridge, that's a real problem.

Emotional hunger cannot be satisfied with food. Yes, food will make you feel better in the moment - but it's too fleeting: repentance follows. After eating, such people feel even worse than before - including because of the unnecessary calories that they ate. Feelings of guilt, remorse due to lack of willpower exacerbate the problem with managing one's own emotions. Therefore, it is more and more difficult for a person to control his desires, habits and his own weight. He feels even more powerless before the temptations of the refrigerator… Familiar? Find out if you are in danger of emotional overeating!

How to spot emotional eating

  • Do you start eating more when you're stressed?
  • Do you eat when you're not hungry, or do you keep eating when you're full?
  • Do you eat to feel better (to calm down when you are sad, restless, bored, etc.)?
  • Do you reward yourself with food?
  • Are you used to eating your fill?
  • Does eating make you feel safe?
  • Do you feel that food is like a "friend"?
  • Do you feel powerless due to loss of appetite control?
  • If you answered yes to at least half of these questions, the problem of emotional overeating is real for you. Read on to find out how to kick your stress eating habit once and for all! To begin with, defining the difference between emotional and physical hunger is a necessary step that will help you stop emotional overeating.

    The first step to food freedom

    Before you can break out of the vicious cycle of emotional eating, you first need to learn how to tell fake emotional hunger from real physical hunger. This can be more difficult than it first appears, especially if you've been using food for a long time to deal with your feelings. Fake hunger can be just as strong as the real one, which is why it's so easy to confuse the two. But there are clues that will tell you what type of hunger you are experiencing at the moment, to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger from each other.

    Emotional Hunger vs. Physical Hunger: Key Differences

    • Emotional hunger comes on suddenly. Physical hunger builds up gradually.
    • Emotional hunger requires you to eat something immediately. Physical hunger can wait.
    • Emotional hunger craves specific comfort foods. Physical hunger is open to options and content with healthy foods.
    • Emotional hunger does not go away with a full stomach. Physical hunger disappears as soon as you are full.
    • Emotional eating causes feelings of guilt, helplessness, and shame. Satisfying physical hunger, a person feels great.

    Emotional hunger arises suddenly - it comes in an instant and suppresses all other thoughts and feelings. On the other hand, physical hunger comes gradually: the desire to eat here does not feel like something urgent, does not require instant satisfaction (unless you have been hungry for a very long time).

    Emotional hunger craves specific foods for comfort. When you are physically hungry, any food seems edible and appealing to you, including healthy foods such as vegetables. Emotional hunger, on the other hand, “craves” fatty foods or makes you eat exclusively sugary snacks - foods that provide an instant burst of energy.

    Emotional hunger often leads to mindless chewing: you can unconsciously gobble up a whole bag of chips or a bag of ice cream without even noticing or enjoying the process. When you eat in response to physical hunger, you tend to be more in control of your needs and more aware of what you are doing.

    Emotional hunger doesn't satisfy you once you've had enough. You hold back the desire to eat more and more. Physical hunger, on the other hand, doesn't require you to stuff yourself to the limit: you feel quite satisfied when your stomach is full.

    Emotional hunger isn't centered in the stomach; it's in the head. When you are physically hungry, you are more focused on the sensations in your stomach, the texture, taste and smell of the food while eating.

    Emotional hunger often leads not to satiety, but to regrets, guilt, and shame. When you eat to satisfy physical hunger, you are less likely to feel guilty or ashamed of your actions—you are simply giving your body what it needs. If you feel guilty after eating, it is most likely because deep down you know that your hunger was not real.

    How to Stop Emotional Eating: A Mood Diary

    Define your triggers. People eat for different reasons. To end emotional overeating, you need to identify your personal stimuli - what situations, places, or feelings make you think about food? Keep in mind that while most cases of compulsive overeating involve unpleasant feelings. It can also be triggered by... positive emotions, such as rewarding yourself for achieving a goal, as well as the habit of celebrating a holiday or joyful event with a plentiful feast.

    For strict control, keeping an "emotional eating" diary is one of the best ways to identify patterns in emotional eating episodes and relate them to mood swings. Every time you rush to overeat, stop and write down the circumstances to find out what was the real reason for the desire to eat. Soon you will be able to find a trigger - an event that disturbs your mental balance. So write down your food and mood in detail in a diary: what you ate (or wanted to eat), what happened at that moment, what upset you, how you felt before you ate something, what you felt in the process of eating and how you felt after. Over time, you will see how clear patterns appear between your mood and eating behavior. Once you identify your emotional triggers, the next step is to break free from food slavery. find healthier ways to "feed" your senses.

    Emotions that make you overeat

    stress. Have you noticed that stress makes you hungry? It's not just in the head: chronic overexertion leads to a persistent increase in cortisol - it is called the "stress hormone". Cortisol provokes cravings for junk food - salty, sweet, high in fat. Such products give a short-term surge of energy and pleasure. However, uncontrolled stress will cause you to turn food from a source of energy into a tool for emotional release.

    Negative emotions. A long list of uncomfortable emotions, including anger, fear, sadness, anxiety, loneliness, resentment and shame - the process of eating food silences them for a while.

    Boredom or a feeling of emptiness. Sometimes food is eaten only in order to do something to get rid of boredom. Food is a fairly common way to fill the emptiness inside and in life, to occupy your mouth and your time. It is a process that temporarily fills and distracts from feelings of purposelessness and dissatisfaction with one's life.

    Children's habits. Recall childhood memories of food. Did your parents reward you with sweets for good behavior, order you pizza when you brought in a good report card, or give you ice cream when you felt sad? These childhood habits often carry over into adulthood. Or perhaps emotional overeating may be tied to nostalgia for childhood and family.

    Social impacts. Going out to a restaurant with colleagues or friends is a great way to relieve stress, but it can also lead to emotional overeating. Everyone is eating and you are not far behind. You can also start overeating out of nervousness.

    How to get rid of emotional overeating: managing feelings

    Hand reaches for a bun? Find other ways to "feed" your senses! If you don't know how to manage your emotions so that you don't touch food, you won't be able to control your eating habits with willpower alone. We need to be more subtle! Diets fail so often because they offer logical nutritional advice, but this kind of advice only works if you have developed conscious control over your eating habits. The diet will not work when emotions take over, requiring an immediate "feast of the spirit." In order to stop emotional eating, you must find other ways to entertain yourself. This is what psychologists offer for a kind of spiritual self-realization.

    Alternatives to emotional eating

    • If you're depressed or lonely, call someone who always makes you feel better, or play with your dog or cat, or look at a favorite photo of a loved one or a place you like to remember.
    • If you are angry and itching to expend nervous energy, dancing to your favorite song or going for a walk can help relieve nervous tension.
    • If you are tired, exhausted, exhausted - pamper yourself with a cup of hot tea. Or you can even take a bath, then light scented candles or wrap yourself in a warm blanket.
    • If you're bored, read a good book, watch a quality comedy show, or go outside to explore the area... Or, best of all, find a hobby: turn to an activity that you enjoy: woodworking, playing the guitar, shooting a crossbow. Running, scrapbooking, etc.

    And most importantly: learn to accept your feelings, even bad ones. Although it may seem to you that the main problem is that you are powerless over food, in fact, emotional overeating is provoked by powerlessness over your emotions. A person does not feel the strength to cope with his feelings in his head, so he tries to “crush” them with food. Opening up, letting unpleasant, uncomfortable emotions into your thoughts can be scary. You may be afraid that they are like Pandora's box - you open the door and you can never close it again. But the truth is that when we don't try to suppress our emotions or fixate on them, even the most painful and difficult feelings subside relatively quickly and lose their power - since then they can no longer capture our attention. If you allow yourself to experience even bad feelings normally, without suppressing or avoiding them, your life will become richer. Our feelings are a window into our inner world. They help us understand and know our deepest desires and fears, our frustrations and the things that will make us happy.

    Emotional overeating: how to avoid temptations

    Many people who are prone to emotional overeating feel powerless over their false appetite. They are overwhelmed by the desire to eat a certain food - and that's all they can think about at the moment. A person feels an unbearable tension that requires him to eat, right now! But in fact, you have more power over your addictions than you think. Before you give in to temptation, try the 5-minute rule. All you have to do is put your food away for five minutes, and do something else, distract yourself (if after 5 minutes seems unrealistic to you, start with one minute). While you wait, check your feelings. How are you feeling? What's going on inside? Even if you give up, you will eventually gain a better understanding of why you did it. This can help you resist temptation next time.

    As mentioned earlier, emotional eating is a process that is usually automatic and virtually meaningless. Before you realize what you're doing, you'll come to your senses for a pack of ice cream, half of which you've already finished off. But if you can take a moment to stop and reflect, you are giving yourself the opportunity to make a different decision.

    Stick to a healthy lifestyle. When you are physically strong, relaxed, well rested, you are quite competent to handle any stress without the help of food. But when you are mentally and physically exhausted, overloaded, there is a risk of going straight to the refrigerator for consolation. Exercise, adequate sleep, and other healthy habits will help you get through tough times without emotional overeating.

    • Make daily exercise a priority. Physical activity does wonders for your mood, it helps you become more energetic, alert and makes you forget about food. Sport is also a powerful stress reducer.
    • At the same time, always find time to relax: allow yourself at least 30 minutes every day to forget about duties and relax - this is your time to take a break from the hustle and bustle and recharge your batteries.
    • Connect with others. Do not underestimate the importance of social connections and social activities. Spend time with positive people who bring joy into your life and help you get rid of the negative effects of stress.

    Things to know (Q&A)

    What is emotional binging?

    If you're overeating to soothe yourself from uncomfortable feelings , you're committing 'emotional binge eating'. It's a common human coping mechanism and not a reason to hate on yourself but instead an opportunity to deal with something that is asking to be dealt with. Work gets intens

    What are the psychological reasons for overeating?

    3 psychological reasons that are making you overeat or eat too...

    • Trying to control your life. When a person is battling an eating disorder, it might be a way to exert some control in his/her life, when everything else has gone haywire. ...
    • Trying to be perfect. ...
    • Trying to distract yourself.

    What are the signs of emotional hunger?

    Feeling an urgent need to eat. Craving a specific food or type of food. Eating a larger amount of food than usual. Eating at unusual times of day (for example, late at night).
    True hunger:

    • Gradually builds.
    • Is a result of an empty stomach.
    • Can be satisfied by a number of different foods.

    Why do we overeat when sad?

    Depression can take hold in many forms. It can zap your energy, cause you to be irritable, and even alter your appetite. In some cases, depression significantly suppresses hunger. For other people, persistent sadness can induce binge eatin

    Why do I emotionally binge?

    Psychological Issues: Triggers for binging include stress, poor body image, and the availability of preferred binge foods . Unfortunately, many people with BED have negative feelings about themselves, including their accomplishments and skill

    How do I stop emotional binging?

    To help stop emotional eating, try these tips:

    1. Keep a food diary. Write down what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, how you're feeling when you eat and how hungry you are. ...
    2. Tame your stress. ...
    3. Have a hunger reality check. ...
    4. Get support. ...
    5. Fight boredom. ...
    6. Take away temptation. ...
    7. Don't deprive yourself. ...
    8. Snack healthy.

    What is an example of binging?

    An example of a binge episode might be: an individual would eat a bowl of cereal with milk, 2 scoops of ice cream, ½ bag of chips and a sleeve of cookies in a two hour period, shortly after a full size dinner; or a person driving through a fast food restaurant after work, consuming a whole meal there, and then going .

    What does it mean when someone is binging?

    Binge eating involves consuming large quantities of food very quickly, even when not hungry, and to the point of being uncomfortable . Almost everyone overeats once in a while, but it can also become a disorde

    What is the psychological reason people overeat?

    Emotional eaters tend to crave junk foods rather than seeking to eat balanced meals, and the urge to eat is usually preceded by stress or an uncomfortable emotion of some kind, like boredom, sadness, anger, guilt, or frustration .

    What are some psychological reasons for eating?

    Many people use food as a coping mechanism to deal with such feelings as stress, boredom or anxiety, or even to prolong feelings of joy . While this may help in the short term, eating to soothe and ease your feelings often leads to regret and guilt, and can even increase the negative feelings.

    Is eating too much a psychological disorder?

    At the most basic level, negative thoughts and habits trigger overeating. This is a mental health (psychological) problem . Eating too much over and over again can make you gain a lot of weight and cause other body (or physical) problems.

    Why do I overeat when im sad?

    Depression can take hold in many forms. It can zap your energy, cause you to be irritable, and even alter your appetite. In some cases, depression significantly suppresses hunger. For other people, persistent sadness can induce binge eating.

    Do people eat more when they are sad?

    There are times when we are low, sad or even depressed and this emotional breakdown may lead to emotional eating, wherein, you tend to eat more than the required calories you would need in a day.