Emotional Eating: Know the Signs

It was a scene in a movie: A woman was holding onto a box of chocolates. She hadn’t devoured chocolates to mask her emotional pain for a few years, but this day she was tempted. She said that if she opened the box she would eat all the chocolates.

She held the box in a death grip as she agonized to a co-worker about whether to eat the candy and feel better or toss the box and continue being anxious and hurt. Finally, she tore off the cover and popped a chocolate into her mouth.

While chewing furiously she continued to talk and then popped in a second piece of candy. At this point, her eyes appeared blank. She was not even aware that she was eating.

This movie scene is a believable depiction of someone in the grip of emotional hunger, wanting to end the emptiness or upset with food.

Signs of Emotional Hunger/Eating

Frequently the craving is for a certain food. It could be chocolate, pasta, ice cream, or mashed potatoes and gravy. Whatever it is, nothing else will satisfy.

The hunger is in the head instead of the stomach. The mouth craves a specific taste, and thoughts about it consume the mind.

There is usually a sense of urgency. The thought of getting the food later or the next day does not fill a person with pleasant anticipation. There is an inner demand to have the food now.

The food is wanted immediately to relieve a difficult mood or feelings that are too uncomfortable. Emotional hunger is not about getting physical energy but about self-soothing.

Although there is craving for a specific food, the food is often consumed without thought. A whole box of candy or bag of chips can be eaten out of awareness.

Just as there may be no sense of eating enjoyment, there is no awareness of becoming full or satisfied. Emotional eating often continues past the point of fullness, resulting in physical discomfort.

There is inevitably guilt involved with emotional eating. So, though eating may relieve emotional distress, the person ultimately suffers from guilt and shame over what was eaten.

Most of us eat for emotional reasons sometimes. It is not a problem unless it is disrupting your ability to function at home, work, or school, or it is compromising your health.

There is no shame in wanting to feel good and enjoy your life. If you use emotional eating to accomplish this but want to live a healthier lifestyle, help is available.

With a deeper understanding of your emotions, and by learning alternative ways to manage the difficult ones, it becomes possible to say, “No,” to the cravings more of the time.

Photo: Px Here

Anxiety Support Groups

More Articles

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain plays a role in mood and anxiety disorders. The most common antidepressants, selective serotonin...

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (ODC) is, as its name implies, characterized by a combination of obsessions and compulsions. Most of us know at...

You know that having an anxiety disorder affects your child’s peer relationships, but recent research indicates that not all anxious children have...

For many people, feelings of stress lead to periods of eating high-calorie and high-fat comfort foods. Now scientists are a step closer to knowing...

According to research published in the journal Science, the drug ketamine can repair brain cell connections that have been disrupted by depression...

More Articles

If you reach adolescence or adulthood with little or no self-confidence, what do you do? Faking it (confidence) until you make it is a stretch for...

A report in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity concludes that consumption of omega-3 fatty acids may reduce inflammation and reduce anxiety. The study...

If you've been feeling ill, it would not be unreasonable to also be experiencing feelings of anxiety and depression. A number of past studies have...

The number one biggest fear of human beings is Glossophobia, also known as having a fear of public speaking. Some even fear public speaking more...

Hoarding behavior is typically associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but there is some debate as to whether hoarding is a symptom...

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, more commonly known as SSRIs, are a class of prescription drugs first developed to treat depression....

When we give to others, more so than receive, we are happier and more fulfilled, which can help treat anxiety and depression. A recent study,...

If you're contemplating starting medication for an anxiety disorder, you no doubt have discovered that there are literally dozens of prescription...

Everyone experiences mild anxiety from time to time. Occasional stress over work and family obligations is a normal part of life, as is anxiety...

People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) may experience heightened levels of anger, and this emotion can worsen symptoms associated with the...

During the winter months, when it’s always raining, my yellow Labrador has fairly constant anxiety. The sound of thunder breaking outside is...

Anxiety disorders are complex, influenced by a number of chemical, behavioral, and situational factors. There are several neurotransmitters in the...

The terms stress and anxiety are used interchangeably by many people, and everyone will experience both at some point in their life. But although...

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (ODC) is, as its name implies, characterized by a combination of obsessions and compulsions. Most of us know at...

Anxiety develops after an extended period of stress, usually six months or longer. When you suffer from an anxiety disorder, it can severely...