Emotional eating is something that each of us has probably done at some point. Emotional Eating refers to the times we overeat or eat mindlessly or eat even though we’re not hungry - simply out of a desire to check out from a situation or a feeling.
Technically speaking, emotional eating can also include times we eat birthday cake to celebrate or have that extra glass of champagne when toasting at a wedding — but, usually, eating out of happiness isn’t an issue people typically worry about. It’s more about the negative or gray-area moments, when we eat for reasons that have nothing to do with hunger.
Negative emotional eating or stress eating in other words is a common issue that most people face... So why do we do this?
There can be many reasons why this can happen and it may even vary from person to person depending on the various factors going on in their lives. But the most common one is that Emotional Eating serves a need -conscious or not, which works as a temporary fix to feel better at that moment.
Most often knowing the need can help you to better serve it, without food. Because we all know, the food and overeating aren’t going to fix it.
Now let’s get down to some of the most common reasons, read on to know more!
1. Lack of intimacy -
No matter how many friends you have, if you don’t feel like you have a support system or you don’t feel comfortable reaching out for support or help - you invariably turn to food and that starts becoming your support system.
2. Shame -
This emotion plays a huge part in making or breaking the relationship with yourself. We all a problem of expressing and releasing so invariably a relationship with food is created.
3. Fear of Challenges -
Sometimes we’re afraid to do new things or don’t like to be pushed out of our comfort zones, we tend to turn that fear inward. And feel inadequate. And cocoon up in the only way we know how — with food
4. Avoiding a conflict -
A confrontation or a difficult conversation is always put off for the short term just to give oneself more time to face the truth. These are mostly short term issues and food becomes the short term therapy.
5. Fear of Judgement -
A common problem faced by 98% of the population. There is a lot of stigma around this particular topic - negative body image. Basically, you think you “should” look a certain ideal way and because you don’t, you punish yourself.
6. Boredom -
A common habit that has increasingly grown especially among the younger generation over time (like mindlessly munching while you watch television) — but there might also be a deeper sense of lack. Not sure what to do? Who to do it with? Food never judges and it passes the time.
7. Self Sabotaging beliefs -
You want to make some changes, you are motivated to do so but eventually, you have been telling yourself for years now that you are an emotional eater so you act the same way and eventually not make any changes to your lifestyle.
8. Rebellion -
Rebelling against your own strict diet or you never got to eat sweets when you were a kid because your parents were strict about it and now you rebel against them. Invariably food becomes your comfort blanket.
9. Abuse -
It can be physical, emotional, and/or sexual. Basically, you’re subconsciously creating a barrier of safety between you and the abuse. Or you’re eating to punish yourself. (IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.)
The one important thing about this is that once you know what’s going on and how food is fulfilling a need, you can re-engineer it to see what other ways can you meet that need in a healthier and more productive way.
Acknowledging the problem by itself is the first step to success and sometimes, awareness is enough to see the pattern and break it. Other times you just need to brainstorm a few other ways to work through the emotion (call a friend, journal it out, go for a walk, meditate on it). You may even need to see a professional (which is an option if the problem gets out of hand)
Do not worry, you are not alone. There are many people fighting their battles in different ways. take one day at a time and you will definitely get through it.