I’ve been contemplating on writing this post. Semi-guilty because I’ve been eating trash the past few months and easily cave in on certain cravings. Yes. I am an emotional eater. While I’m thankful for not being “fat” or “obese” despite the junk I eat, thanks to my gym workouts. It’s still not okay because I’m not reaching my goals and it’s not healthy. How can I be an inspiration to all of you if I keep on eating and posting crap? I created the IG Account: @themachomom_eats (formerly @kikaysikateats) to keep track of what I’m eating and oh boy did it turn into a wall of shame.
What is Emotional Eating?
Emotional eating (or stress eating) is using food to make yourself feel better—eating to satisfy emotional needs, rather than to satisfy physical hunger. You might reach for a pint of ice cream when you’re feeling down, order a pizza if you’re bored or lonely, or swing by the drive-through after a stressful day at work.
Occasionally using food as a pick me up, a reward, or to celebrate isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But when eating is your primary emotional coping mechanism—when your first impulse is to open the refrigerator whenever you’re stressed, upset, angry, lonely, exhausted, or bored—you get stuck in an unhealthy cycle where the real feeling or problem is never addressed.
Emotional hunger can’t be filled with food. Eating may feel good in the moment, but the feelings that triggered the eating are still there. And you often feel worse than you did before because of the unnecessary calories you’ve just consumed.
No matter how powerless you feel over food and your feelings, it is possible to make a positive change. You can find healthier ways to deal with your emotions, learn to eat mindfully instead of mindlessly, regain control of your weight, and finally put a stop to emotional eating.
Are You an Emotional Eater?
- Do you eat more when you’re feeling stressed? YES
- Do you eat when you’re not hungry or when you’re full? YES
- Do you eat to feel better (to calm and soothe yourself when you’re sad, mad, bored, anxious, etc.)? YES
- Do you reward yourself with food? YES
- Do you regularly eat until you’ve stuffed yourself? NO
- Does food make you feel safe? Do you feel like food is a friend? YES
- Do you feel powerless or out of control around food? YES
I scored a 6/7 in this exam. Especially of sweets! Desserts are a must-have every meal even when I’m already full huhuhu. This. Must. Stop.
How to Have Mindful Eating Habits
Mindful eating is a practice that develops your awareness of eating habits and allows you to pause between your triggers and your actions. Most emotional eaters feel powerless over their food cravings. When the urge to eat hits, you feel an almost unbearable tension that demands to be fed, right now. Because you’ve tried to resist in the past and failed, you believe that your willpower just isn’t up to snuff. But the truth is that you have more power over your cravings than you think.
Alternatives to emotional eating
Depressed or lonely? call someone who always makes you feel better, play with your dog or cat, or look at a favorite photo or cherished memento.
Anxious? expend your nervous energy by dancing to your favorite song, squeezing a stress ball, or taking a brisk walk.
Exhausted? treat yourself with a hot cup of tea, take a bath, light some scented candles, or wrap yourself in a warm blanket.
Bored? read a good book, watch a comedy show, explore the outdoors, or turn to an activity you enjoy (woodworking, playing the guitar, shooting hoops, scrapbooking, play tennis with amazing ping pong paddle, etc.)
I’ve begun the practice of mindful eating today, just after I wrote this article. I hope I can keep up so can you!