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Identify emotional eating


Everyone uses food for comfort from time to time.

It's normal – and healthy – to cope with negative feelings by using things that makes us feel better, both physically and emotionally. Yet filling the void with food can become a problem when emotional eating happens consistently and, moreover, when the food itself becomes a problem as big as the issues it's being used to cope with.

Negative emotional associations

Almost exclusively, emotional eating is associated with negative feelings. To identify whether you're an emotional eater, consider how often you turn to food to cope with difficult feelings, like boredom, depression, guilt or sadness. Emotional eaters will usually find that negative emotions act as triggers for a binge.

Guilt and shame

Emotional eating also tends to be associated with feelings of shame and guilt. After an emotional eating episode, you might find that your negative feelings have worsened, and that feelings of shame about your behavior have also surfaced. These tend to create a downward spiral, setting you up for a defeating cycle of self-criticism and more bingeing.

Associating food with emotion

In almost every culture across the globe, food is inherently linked to social activity and celebration. But emotional eaters tend to take this a step further, always looking for opportunities to derive joy from eating. If you find yourself in situations where you constantly want to use food as a means to celebrate life, you might have a problem. This is not to say that enjoying food is abnormal – it's not. But emotional eating tends to reflect an unhealthy obsession with food, whether positive or negative.

Physiological cues

Emotional eaters may also respond to physiological cues about hunger. If you find yourself ravenous because you skipped a meal or you're using food as a way to find relief from a headache or other physical ailment, you might be an emotional eater.

Since emotional eating is so strongly linked to thoughts and feelings, it's important to remain aware of which negative emotions trigger a binge. Experts recommend keeping a food diary to track your stressors and thoughts as you eat. Over time, you should be able to see which thought patterns trigger emotional eating – and how to change them.

Source: Medicine Net