5 Signs to Spot Emotional Eating

Hey there Lovely Ladies (and Dashing Dudes)

Here I am… Standing in front of you… Again… Lust in my eyes, a hunger in my soul. You have what I need… Breathing as soft as possible… I don’t want anyone to see me. All I want is you. My dearest friend. You complete me. Come a little closer… Let me breath in your scent… Let me taste you on my lips…

OH CHOCOLATE COOKIE!!! Nomnomnomnom…

What?! It wasn’t THAT misleading.. I mean, I talk about food and healthy eating.. Did you really think that was going to go into an *ahem* adult scenario? Come on!! A midnight binge has to be executed in complete secrecy, okay? Especially when it SEEMS like you’re doing ALL the right things to eat healthy and get fit. It’s easier to explain a torrid love affair than why we get so caught up with certain foods and JUST. CANNOT. STOP.
Now that we have the context all cleared up, lets get back to the story.
There I was. Scarfing down chocolate chip cookies like there was no tomorrow. My best frenemy. The balm to my soul, to my emptiness. And even when the sweetness became too intense and my tongue got numb from the assault on it, I couldn’t stop, I wouldn’t stop…

Ever Happen to you?

Yes? Join the club. I know the feeling and you are definitely not alone. In fact, it’s pretty well established (with massive research to back it up) that a vast majority of people indulge in emotional eating. At 75% that is no small/insignificant fraction at ALL. YOu probably recognize some common symptoms of emotional eating, things like –

  • intense cravings
  • supersonic binges (midnight ones included)
  • uncontrollable eating
  • ditching diets
  • overstretched will power.

All of which help in insidious weight gain… 

Now I know we’re all about getting healthy and not worrying about the number on the scale. Except… Emotional eating leads most often to people gorging on the super unhealthy food they KNOW they need to steer clear from.
So what is this whole “emotional eating” thing, anyway?

Here’s how to spot emotional eating

1. Do you eat when you aren’t hungry?

While often we are in a tight spot (or five) where we can’t always eat when we’re hungry or listen to our bodies, chronically eating when you’re not hungry is a sign of emotional eating. In fact, it’s a HUGE sign.
How often do you find yourself finishing off packets of chips, whole bars of chocolate and boxes of pizza while doing mundane tasks like watching TV or studying? You might even feel puzzled because you didn’t realize WHEN or HOW that happened, but you are left with the evidence. That it’s all gone. Poof!

2. Do you eat when you bored?

Or tired? Anxious? Lonely? Simply stressed out? 
This is the direct definiton of emotional eating. Using food for comfort or numbing out emotions that are “scary” or “too much to handle”. We’ve all been led to believe that food is our only true friend, that it can give us an experience MORE delicious than the one we are having right now. One way to work around it is to figure out what emotion are you trying to cover up with food. And find alternate ways to deal with those emotions effectively. Seeking help for this part is a really good idea and getting a therapist or coach is highly recommended. And worth it!

3. Do you keep eating till you’re Stuffed?

It’s so natural, these days, to eat a big meal that makes you want to pass out right after, isn’t it? No wonder we often miss this sign. The inability to stop eating when you’re full and going all the way to stuffed is a sure-fire sign of emotional eating. And don’t be fooled, it’s not always negative emotions at play. Sometimes, even the “happy” ones can run the show- think of a joyous social event or gathering, where you celebrate and chat with family and friends. Of course it’s hard to keep track of precisely how many drinks and courses you’ve had. But that unmistakable feeling of bloated discomfort is a warning from your body. Heed it and all will be well. Or at least better.

4. Do you feel guilty after eating?

How do you feel after a meal? Full, calm, energized? Or was that overstuffed belly followed by a mountain of guilt, shame and reproach?
Those among us who identify as Serial Dieters (people who go on one diet after another for many years) might recognize this vicious cycle.

  • You don’t eat well or enough,
  • your will power snaps and you give in to ONE bite of a Forbidden Food,
  • you find yourself overstuffed after binge-eating Forbidden Food,
  • you feel ashamed and filled with guilt/ regret and
  • put yourself onto a much stricter diet.

Thus perpetuating the cycle. And yes, this leads to midnight face-stuffing with chocolate chip cookies!

5. Do you eat in a hurry?

This looks like eating over the sink, standing while eating, finishing meals in record times of 5 minutes and under. I know we have a bunch of things to do and multitasking seems to be the name of the game at this point, but every time you don’t give your body time to register what it’s eating, you tread the dangerous path. Eating in a hurry is a trait displayed both by chronic overeaters as well as future overeaters. Your body is a really smart and efficient machine and like all machines it has its mechanisms. Eating in a rush confuses the natural body systems and leads to over eating since the body doesn’t get the time to realize it’s full. Instead it adapts by increasing your appetite to match your current intake of food. If you want to stop confusing the body, start eating slower!!

Of course this topic is SO MUCH more vast than just spotting emotional eating. We also have to figure out how the heck to stop it.

Keep your eyes and ears peeled for the solution post. And if you liked reading this, tell me and your mom and your friends… 🙂

Eat slowly this week and see what happens. Better yet, leave a comment with your observations!

Till we meet again,
With big, chocolate scented hugs


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