Food doesn’t just fuel our body, it also serves our emotional needs. We’ve all stuffed our faces with ice cream and junk food during a breakup. We've also worked out really, really hard so we can treat ourselves to extra rice after. Whatever our reasons are, emotional eating affects most of us. But consuming food in this way can be destructive, so it’s important you look out for the telltale signs so you can nip it in the bud before it becomes a serious issue.
Do you eat more when you’re stressed?
Emotional eating is a completely subconscious action, which can be brought on my stress, anxiety or fear. If you find yourself reaching for food in these situations, then it could be more than just a knee jerk reaction to a hard time.
Do you eat even when you’re full?
Grazing after mealtimes or snacking throughout the day could be another telltale sign, especially if you never seem full. Also watch out for piling your plate high and going back for second helpings even if you no longer feel hungry.
Does your hunger come on rapidly?
Hunger actually comes on gradually, so if you keep finding yourself suddenly desperate for food then emotional eating could be at play.
Do you reward yourself with food?
Everybody is probably guilty of this every now and again, but if you constantly view food as a reward then it’s time to understand why.
Do you feel guilty after you’ve binged?
When you eat to fuel your body, you should never feel guilty about it. After all, hunger is your body’s way of saying you need food, so fulfilling physical hunger should be a satisfying experience. However, if you’re reaching for food when you know you’re not actually hungry, it can leave you feeling ashamed and powerless. Viewing food as your friend is another red flag.
If any of these resonate with you, then now is the time to take action. To start with, when hunger strikes ask yourself if you really are hungry. When in doubt, just drink since sometimes, our body just needs hydrating.
Identify trigger foods, especially treats like sweet things, and keep a food diary. This way you’ll easily be able to assess when and what you’re eating.
Slow down and savor meal times, as feeling full isn’t an instant process. Enjoy your food, but don’t place your emotions on it.