We eat because we need to survive. Food gives our bodies the fuel that it needs to maintain energy. While energy is the primary reason us humans eat, many people have adapted to eating for other reasons as well. Another reason people eat include to make themselves feel better emotionally. When a person eats to feed their emotions, this is called emotional eating.
Emotional eating is not good because it can lead to overeating. When people eat to make themselves feel better emotionally rather than to satisfy their physical hunger, they can have a difficult time controlling how much and how often they eat.
When people eat to feed their emotions as with emotional eating, they often select comfort foods. Comfort foods make you feel good, either because they taste good, or because they bring back memories of a time when they had it previously and tasted good. Comfort foods are usually high in sugar and fat and have tons of calories.
Emotional eaters have a hard time telling the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger. When a person is truly hungry, they will feel it in their stomach and also feel less energized. When people are hungry based on emotions, they simply eat to satisfy a feeling, rather than true hunger.
There are three common triggers that cause people to emotionally eat: Stress, boredom, or eating habits. When we feel stressed out, our bodies have an increased level of cortisol. This is the same thing that makes us crave comfort foods. When people feel bored, they often eat because they simply don’t know what else to do. Eating habits are another trigger. Eating becomes a pattern that you become comfortable with. People often don’t think about whether they are actually hungry or not.
Tips to stop emotionally eating
1. Eat mindfully. This means eating slowly and being conscious of what and how much you are eating. Take your time.
2. Practice deep breathing. Deep breathing adds oxygen to your brain which helps you think more clearly which will help you make better choices about food. This method is especially helpful when you are feeling stressed out.
3. Learn to control your cravings. Thinking about how a food you crave tastes only increases your cravings. Cravings stimulate thoughts about how that food tastes, which could even make a person begin to salivate. To fight this, try to think of food cravings as things that you would be uncomfortable with eating.
4. Learn to control your impulses when eating. This takes practice, but it can be done. By learning to control your impulses when eating, you can learn to stop eating for the wrong reasons, and start eating for the right ones.
5. Eat with your non-dominant hand. In a 2011 study, researchers from the University of Southern California found that eating with your non-dominant hand can reduce the amount that you eat.