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What is Emotional Eating and How Can You Prevent it?

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We are constantly evaluating our lives in terms of how our relationships with others are going

Another relationship that greatly affects our wellbeing is the one we have with the food we eat – which we rarely have the time to stop and think about, let alone assess how it shapes our lives.

Although some people simply eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full, many people partake in emotional eating as a way to cope with trauma, stress or even boredom. Emotional eating can be avoided by remaining in the moment and using more effective methods of stress management.

Many times, emotional eating is happening and we aren’t even aware of it. Therapists refer to this as unconscious eating. A way to combat this is to make a point of remaining mindful while you eat. Truly focus on what you are eating and how much to help to combat overeating and simply eating out of boredom.

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We are mentally trained as a society to eat as part of a celebration or special occasion. This has triggered many to make unhealthy food choices after a bad day or simply because it is someone’s birthday.

“Food is being used as a way to overcome negative emotions,” said Professor Eva Kemps from the faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Flinders University. “So it’s not surprising that when people feel stressed, anxious, depressed or lonely that they are likely to turn to food as a way of comforting themselves.”

It is crucial to realize the habit of eating when certain emotions hit – such as stress or sadness – or work to combat them the next time you feel like snacking because you’re feeling bad.

Remaining mindful of your eating habits can be difficult at first, but over time it will allow you to turn to healthier activities when faced with stressful situations. Drinking a glass of water, taking a walk, or simply playing a game on your cellphone for a few moments can ease your need to eat and may help to ease any anxieties as well. As the saying goes, “you are what you eat,” so it is important to make sure you are feeding your body the nutrition it needs – when you need it.

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