This one was particularly interesting for me to write, since I do tend to be an emotional eater. Thanks to the research I did for this article, I've been a bit more sucessful in controlling my urges and insecurities.
Article originally published in WMN.Ph.
Men are for Pizza, Women are for Cookies
Do you feel the need to eat when you are stressed out? For some people, that can be a sign of an emotional eating disorder. Find out if how you can deal with it.
Text and Photos By Richie Ramos
It's all in the feelings
Emotional eating, as the name implies, is the urge to eat when one gets emotionally distressed. It's not just about negative moods, however, but positive ones as well. Emotional eating can also be present in people who are trying to keep a good mood going.
How is emotional eating different?
Here are some differences between actual hunger and stress-induced eating:
1) Physical hunger happens gradually. Emotional hunger comes suddenly. "Craving" is a very good term for this.
2) If you're looking for a specific food (and you're not pregnant), then it's emotional. If you were really hungry, you'd think of other options.
3) Unless you haven't eaten for 12 hours, you can probably wait a bit before eating. But if it were an emotional hunger attack, you'd probably want your comfort food now.
4) When you're satisfying an emotional need, you will eat even if you're full. This can lead to other eating disorders.
5) Emotional eating carries feelings of guilt along with it in many cases. Let's face it, you don't really feel guilty when you're eating due to honest-to-goodness physical hunger.
If you think you may have emotional eating problems, here are a few pointers on how to control it:
Keep an "eating" notebook. Map out your eating patterns. Include what you ate, when you ate it, and how your feelings were at the time. Even better, if you can pinpoint why you're stressed out, write it down.
Do something else. Come up with alternative activities to eating. It doesn't have to be exercise, just something that is enjoyable and takes your mind off food intake.
Get the support of friends. Your loved ones should know about your problem. The emotional and actual support that friends can give is very important in controlling stress factors.
Give yourself a healthy food option. Granola bars and fruits are good examples of healthy comfort food. But don't ban your favorites completely from your diet. Rather, schedule your indulgences in small portions. For instance, you don't have to finish off a whole cheesecake; a few bites ought to satisfy your taste buds already. For the leftover, share it with friends - but not the same ones all the time!
If you think you're still failing, then it's time to get professional help. And as always, get the support of your loved ones. You might want to bring them with you when you consult your doctor, or you may even consider the possibility that they may be the source of your stress.
So, the next time you get an urge to eat a gallon of ice cream, ask yourself: is it getting to be a habit? It will only become a vicious cycle if you don't get to the root of the problem triggering you to eat.
Search Amazon.com for emotional eating