It’s been a long day at work, you got stuck in traffic on your way home, and you just remembered that you have to bake two dozen cookies for your child’s bake sale, which is tomorrow – your head is spinning! The minute you walk through that front door, you head straight for the kitchen, reach for the bag of chips and get to munching. Sound familiar? If you answered yes, there’s a good chance that you might be an emotional eater, but you’re not alone.
The reality is most of us don’t eat to live. Food is also used for comfort, stress relief or as a way to celebrate. In the long run though, emotional eating can affect your weight, health and overall well-being. Here are three signs that you’re an emotional eater, as well as a few ways you can start taking back control.
1. You eat even when you’re not hungry.
If your stomach isn’t growling, rumbling or making any other strange noises, yet you still feel the urge to eat something, then you’re not actually hungry. What you’re really seeking is emotional nourishment. Listen to your body. It’ll let you know when it’s time to reach for another snack or meal. If you must eat, grab something healthy. For instance, if you’re craving sweets, opt for a small fruit salad instead.
2. You feel guilty after eating.
When most of us are stressed out, we turn to unhealthy foods, such as potato chips, donuts, chocolate, pizza and so on, but emotional eaters get a rush as they eat because they’re trying to satisfy an emotional hunger. You need food to fuel your body, so it shouldn’t be something you feel guilty about. But, when you’re eating to fill a void, you’re more likely to feel guilty afterward. Emotional eating often leads to overeating, making you feel even worse than before.
3. You have anxiety when you’re not eating.
If you’re not eating, but all you can think about is food and it’s causing you stress, then you might be an emotional eater. Before you reach for that extra slice of cake, stop and ask yourself, “Am I hungry right now? Why do I feel the urge to eat? What’s bothering me at this particular moment?” By taking a minute to think before you eat, the more likely you are to make smarter choices.