Seen the advertisement where a girl handles the pain of break-up by eating a big burger? Now that is what you call emotional eating. When you see food as a source of comfort, or a channel of giving vent to various emotions; you know you are suffering from this compulsive disorder, known as emotional eating. In the case of emotional eating; you don’t eat to subdue hunger-pangs, but to repress or let go unwanted feelings and emotions. Thus, food is consciously/ sub-consciously seen as the immediate available answer to all your sorrows, worries or the like. In most cases, you often end up eating more than what is actually required. Such eating disorders are always unhealthy and sometimes might lead to serious repercussions.
Various emotional factors like stress, boredom, loneliness, anxiety, dejection, anger, jealousy and frustration might induce emotional eating. Such irrational eating habits often make you feel guilty later. You end up consuming a pile of food (especially junk food / fatty food/ high calorie food) and start counting the calories later. This aggravates the situation further. It adds to your worries, along with the addition to your waistline. Moreover such habits of binge eating might also lead to severe eating disorders like ‘bulimia’ (binge/ obsessive eating followed by purging) and ‘anorexia’ (controlling bodyweight by under-eating and purgation) later. In the following lines, we have detailed the various causes of emotional eating, and how to get rid of it.
Causes of Emotional Eating
Let us learn what really causes such unhealthy eating habits
- Emotional Causes - You binge eat to regulate emotional feelings like anger, depression, jealousy, boredom, fatigue and the like.
- Social Causes - Overeating in social circumstances, as a response to anger or low self-esteem; or to modulate yourself with the environment.
- Situational Causes - You eat because you think a particular situation demands it. For e.g. while watching TV, while going out for the movies etc
- Physiological Causes - You eat in response to physical signals. For e.g. eating to cure a headache or alleviate any other pain.
How to Stop Compulsive Eating Disorder
Some quick tips to help you get rid of/ control those unhealthy cravings for food
Are You Really Hungry?
First and foremost try to differentiate between real and emotional hunger. Keep a track of what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat and understand if your desire for food is physical or emotional. Craving for mood-elevating foods (like chocolates, pizzas, cookies and ice cream) are indicators that your desire is more emotional than physical.
Create your Comfort Zone
Replace ‘comfort food’ with other activities that keeps you busy. Get engaged in other productive or relaxing activities (reading, swimming, gardening, and listening to music) that help you divert yourself from unnecessary gorging. But if you are really hungry, don’t starve yourself. You will end up eating more, if you skip your proper meals. Understand your stomach.
Learn to store healthy food in the refrigerator. Don’t pile it with high calorie/ packaged, junk and other comfort food. These mood elevating foods in your refrigerator can easily trigger those unnecessary cravings. Stack it with fruits, vegetables and other nutritious food. If you crave for a snack, eat a carrot or a low-fat snack like unbuttered popcorn. But, learn to moderate your eating habit.
No Skipping Meals
Never skip your meals, especially the breakfast. When you don’t get a balanced diet in your regular meal, your longing for emotional eating increases. Include wholesome and healthy food in all your meals and eat more vegetables, fruits, lean protein sources and low-fat products. Eating healthy, and at proper intervals, help you to stay fuller for a long time, thus avoiding emotional eating.
Exercise and Proper Rest
Avoid being a couch potato and hit the gym or just go for a stroll on the nearby park. This will help keep your mind off the refrigerator. Don’t forget to take adequate rest everyday. Food need not be the only mood elevator. A fit body and a relaxed mind can easily help you fight stress and fatigue, and uplift your mood in no time.
So be smart. Don’t quell your emotions with a pizza. Chop off emotional eating with the above mentioned tricks. Eat healthy and look good always!