Are you hungry when you’re stressed and ravenous when you’re upset? You could be veering towards being an emotional eater.

The lowdown

Before you gorge on that second piece of cake, remember that if you can’t stop eating even when you should be full – you’ve got to take a long, hard look at your diet. Emotional eating has been described as eating to feed a feeling, instead of the stomach. If your consumption of food is related directly to how you feel, you’re not doing yourself any favours. Even using food as a reward (“I’ll have a slice of cake because I worked out today!”) is a bad habit, so it’s best not to go there. The unnecessary calories that you consume will actually make you feel worse than you did before you started bingeing.


Understanding the signs

Now, there’s a difference between emotional eating and eating because you’ve suddenly garnered a large appetite. How do you know the difference? Ask yourself a few simple questions. Are you suddenly eating out of an insane urge, to fill a void or to comfort yourself? Do you lose track of what you’re eating and how often your hand is moving up to your mouth with food? You won’t feel hungry, but you will get a craving. You’ll want something specific, not food in general. It also won’t leave you as satisfied as normal hunger will at the end of a good meal.


Getting better

Emotional eating is terrible for your system. It makes you consume too many calories, eat unhealthy food and at the end of the day – it isn’t even making you feel better! But, like with any addiction or problem, it’s really hard to work around it all by yourself. The first step to getting better is to try and distinguish between your hunger and emotional eating. Simply avoiding food whenever you’re hungry isn’t a good solution. Also, the next time you get a craving, you could try distracting yourself. Exercise also helps, because it makes your mind feel a little calmer and balanced, so any eating born out of stress will be less. And if nothing seems to work, you could keep a food journal. This way, you’ll know what you’re eating and when you’re eating it. Reminding yourself of a bad habit will help you control it.

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