There are hundreds of studies that focus on the psychology of obesity and highlight the fact that medical-rooted obesity is rarer than psychology-related obesity. Also, there is a tendency for self-developmental blockages to translate to emotional eating. Nearly all of us have experienced emotional and stress-related eating problems. While physical activity is a critical aspect of overall well-being, our mental health should have the same amount of focus when it comes to lifestyle changes or weight loss.
Here are five ways you can identify if you are emotionally eating — whether or not you are feeding your body or your emotions — so you can begin your journey for change:
1. Hunger vs craving: Telling the difference
Real hunger can be satisfied by any kind of nutritious food. It is also clear that once we finished eating, we do not crave for more — we are just perfectly fine. Physical hunger builds up slowly and eating to reduce hunger is a very conscious process. But if we suddenly start to crave a certain kind of food, that is surely not real hunger.
2. Emotions attached to food
If we eat as a way to manage stress then we will be not satisfied at the end of our meal. In so many cases we even feel guilt or shame. There are typical emotional patterns behind emotion and stress-related eating. Most of them are coachable while some of them may need long-term therapy. Foods that come with the feeling of ‘relaxation’, ‘me time’, ‘calming myself down’ or ‘love’ will certainly indicate emotional eating.
3. Unlimited amount of food
Emotional eating is like a black hole in the consciousness: we do not focus on the amount of food, the quality or the world outside of our happy eating bubble. We try to forget what we eat as soon as possible. The most typical situation is eating in front of your screen. While you are multi-tasking during meal time, you cannot be present and you will not decode your body’s feedback on when the enough is really enough. Also passing on this bad habit to your children will create a high chance of potential obesity.
4. I deserve it
In our society, food is commonly used as a rewarding tool. It can be related to cultural and/or family roots, where adults used sweets as something positive and as an encouragement for children. This is a very bad and unhealthy pattern that will be difficult to re-programme. Whenever you realise that you use food, drinks or sweets as a reward at least try to stay conscious about the quality and the quantity.
5. Failed diet plans
Once you’ve committed to a personalised meal plan, you should acknowledge the benefits of it. So if you constantly fail to keep at it even in the short term, you should consider analysing your relationship with food and eating. Every lifestyle change and new diet should be based on conscious decisions where the personality is prepared to adapt to changes, new reactions and better choices. In order to reach this state of mind, you may need some extra support from a professional.
— Krisztina Csurgo, is a certified personal trainer and emotional eating consultant. She blogs on nodietpersonaltraining.com.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are the author’s own. Always seek the advice of your doctor before making any health decisions.