Emotional Eating Explained

For those struggling with obesity, there is often a close tie to emotional eating. In times of duress, food seems to be the only comfort albeit a short-term fix to a much more complicated issue. Have you ever reached for food during times of stress? Do you rely on food to provide you comfort during especially trying emotional situations? If so, you are most likely an emotional eater and you certainly are not alone. There are many times when we reach for food not to satisfy our hunger but rather to satisfy our emotional needs. This behavior is what is known as emotional eating. Emotional eaters come in all shapes and sizes and do so for varying reasons. Many people eat to avoid their feelings while some are seeking feelings of satisfaction. Others reach for food in an attempt to self-soothe. No matter the root cause, emotional eating can be a destructive habit that leads to emotional and mental distress. Advanced Surgical and Weight Loss Institute knows that many of our patients in Brevard County struggle with emotional eating. Our goal is to provide our bariatric surgery patients with the best tools available in order to help them reach their goals. Knowledge is power. Once you realize your over eating could be an emotional response, you can find the tools to re-train your brain and changes your habits.

According to American Psychological Association, there is a major connection between stress and overeating. The APA states that almost forty percent of American adults have overindulged or turned to unhealthy eating as a means to cope with stress within a given month while almost half of this same group do so at least once a week. Eating in this way only masks the problem at hand and most people who engage in emotional eating report feeling guilt and disappointment afterwards. When food is used as an emotional coping mechanism, the real emotional distress is not being taken care of. Those who eat in this unhealthy pattern are not addressing the real reasons why they are seeking to feed themselves in such a way. This is not to say that treating yourself on occasion is wrong. Rather, it is the reasons behind the choice that make all the difference. Have you ever wondered if you are an emotional eater? Here are some important questions to ask yourself.

  • Have you ever eaten simply because you are stressed?
  • Do you seek comfort in food?
  • Is food a reward for you?
  • Do you hide your eating from others?
  • Do you feel powerless to your cravings?
  • Do you eat when you are not hungry?
  • Do you crave a feeling?
  • Do you desire certain textures and tastes over nutrition?

If you answered yes to some of these questions, emotional eating could be a problem for you and there is help. Begin by being mindful about when and why you eat. Realizing why you are reaching for food is one of the first steps in healing. Seek the help of a mental health professional in order to receive an accurate assessment of your condition. Having a trained professional to assist you and provide tools for changing your behaviors is powerful.