5 Signs You’re an Emotional Eater (and the Most Important Thing You Can Do to Break Up with Your Unhealthy Relationship with Food)
It’s not you, it’s just your RELATIONSHIP with food. I want to help you break up with that unhealthy relationship. You don’t need it! Once you understand the basics of this relationship stuff you will end the chaotic world of being an emotional eater. Isn’t it time to ditch the inner critic, you know the one, it’s that voice that tells you that you can’t stop this chaos and self-sabotage? You want some peace, right? I knew it. Well, keep reading my dear because we are going to take that first step today to end this insanity.
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Are you an emotional eater?
Hey! How do you know if you are an emotional eater, anyway? You have to be able to understand the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger. Now you may already identify yourself as an emotional eater, but to really be able to take hold of the issue and make changes, it’s important to understand how those things are different and be clear about the signs. Once we tackle that baby, we will really be able to create your success plan.
- Comes on gradually…kind of sneaks up on you
- You can feel it IN YOUR BODY…your stomach growls and loudly!
- You feel satisfied after eating…and a happy smile dances across your face
- You eat mindfully….as in “I know exactly what I ate”
- No feelings of regret or shame after eating…you are just a happy camper
- Comes on as a sudden need, like…WHAM! “I NEED SOMETHING NOW!”
- Your hunger is really coming from your thoughts and is not really about feeding you nutrionally…you are craving something specific, like bread, or sugar or crunchy chips
- You don’t feel full after you eat…”Oh, no I ate through the whole bag of chips and I can still eat another bag! WHY??”
- You eat mindlessly…”THERE’S NO WAY I FINISHED THE BAG ALREADY!! ACK!”
- Feel regret or shame after eating…”Oh man, I’m such a freaking loser. How could I have let this happen, AGAIN!”
Any of the emotional eating stuff sound familar? Ya, I thought maybe it might. I have been down that road so I totally get it.
One of the biggest differences between emotional eating and physical hunger is that emotional hunger comes on suddenly. It hits you in an instant it feels really overwhelming, it feels urgent. Physical hunger is only going to feel that way if you’re only really starving, as in you haven’t eaten for 12 hours. There is something about emotional hunger where it hits really hard. So when you are reaching for food, begin to take note of the process of your hunger and see if it is coming on quickly or gradually.
Emotional hunger comes from the thoughts that are in your head rather than physically having the feeling of hunger in your body. So what I mean by that is, with emotional hunger you’re going to be focused on the feeling of the craving and the food you are absolutely DYING to have. You know what I mean, like how you find yourself almost in love with the thing you want to eat. You just have to have it and will ignore little puppies to get it. You will make a beeline for that one particular item. You’re thinking about this specific food or the kind of texture that you want, or even the feeling of comfort that you want. You are thinking about what your mind is saying, you’re not tuned in to any of the physical sensations that are going on your body like how your stomach may or may not be growling. When you stomach is growling, that is clearly physical hunger. So begin to tune into that feeling and understand the main difference between physical and emotional hunger is going be about differences in what is happening in your body. If it is hard for you to identify these sensations in your body, ask yourself when you are eating, what are you looking to satisfy? Are you looking for comfort? Are you looking for a specific texture? If you answer “yes” to those questions you are very likely experiencing emotional hunger.
Another important piece to understand is how full you feel after you have eaten. You are not usually going to feel satisfied if you are experiencing emotional hunger. You might even start opening up another bag of chips! You’re not going to feel full at all and pretty much unsatisfied all around. You will get the sensation that you want to keep on eating. When it is physical hunger you feel satisfied, you don’t feel you need to stuff yourself, and will know when you are full.
Emotional hunger is also going to lead to mindless eating. In other words, you’re really not aware as to how much you’re eating because you’re thinking usually about other things, like “are there enough chips in the house or do I have to get out of my jammies and go out for some more?” You don’t eat until you are satisfied, because frankly, you are never going to feel satisfied. And emotional hunger is always going to lead to regret or feelings of guilt. We don’t feel guilt, or feel shame when we are eating for our physical needs. So it’s really important to take note of how you feel afterwards. Is it shame, guilt or embarrassment? Are you also thinking about making a plan to “eat better” later in the day or tomorrow? This is usually connected to those feelings of emotional hunger and having an unhealthy relationship with food.
How do I get off this crazy ride?
The most important thing you can do to “break up” with your unhealthy relationship with food and end the cycle of emotional eating, is to first notice these signs and reflect on what is happening. The best way to do that is by using a Food Mood journal. Try writing down what you are eating at each meal and for snacks, and then write down the answers to the following questions:
How do you feel right now?
What happened right before this meal?
Where are the sensations in your body?
What were you thinking about right before this meal?
How did you feel during this meal?
How did you feel right after this meal?
This will give you some insight into the pattern of emotions that are coming up for you. Your next steps will be to work on the emotions that are causing you to overeat. Remember, it is one step at a time, my dear, and the most important thing is to identify what is happening. Once your relationship with food becomes about fueling your body and not dealing with your emotions it will become a world of peace and calm. Stick with me. I have way more to say on this topic and I will help you get through it. Promise. And if you want more help with this topic right now click on the link below to get my new FREE guide:
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I would love to hear your questions and comments. Please type into the comments section below. Please share this post on Facebook because I believe when we help each other through this we truly help ourselves, too.