Emotional eating – Desire to eat is different to hunger

Emotional eating – Desire to eat is different to hunger

Identifying the reasons why you eat can be the key to successful weight loss. Are you really hungry or are you eating because something is eating you?

Emotional eating

Are you really hungry or are you just eating because something is eating you?

There are many reasons why we eat, not just simply hunger. Natural hunger is different to the desire to eat.

Pleasure, boredom, stress & grief are all triggers that can create a desire to eat. This desire to eat over rides the normal signals which decide if we are hungry or not. You need to learn how to identify whether you are naturally hungry or emotionally hungry.

Imagine that you’ve had a really stressful day at work or with the kids, your mood’s not great and you’re feeling cheesed off. It makes you want to sit down and have a good old feast on biscuits, crisps etc.

Stop and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry or do I just want to change the way I feel?”

“I am upset. Will eating really make me feel any happier?”

“Will eating that food, really do anything to change the way I feel?”

The reality is it would probably make you feel worse. The few minutes of pleasure you took from eating it would soon be replaced by the same feeling you had before and added to that would be the guilt & self loathing you then feel for having allowed yourself to eat it!

What you really need to ask yourself is “what can I do to change the way I feel other than eat?”

There are other social situations that trigger us to over eat:

Social eating because our friends/family/colleagues are.

Situational Passing a bakery & feeling the need to buy something. Habits such as, having sweets in front of the TV on a Saturday evening.

Thoughts Negative self worth – eating because you’ve given up or feel like a failure. A common example of this is, when you don’t lose weight one week after really trying, and you go home upset about it and overeat with a “what’s the point?” attitude.

Emotional Eating in response to boredom, stress, tension, depression, anger, anxiety, or loneliness.

Physiological A response to physical cues such as increased hunger because you’ve skipped a meal. You know, you’ve rushed in – you’re starving – you start to prepare something to eat and as you’re cutting the cheese, a chunk ends up in your mouth! You’ve buttered the bread, and an extra slice “just to keep you going until tea is ready” Then, still hungry, you serve yourself a huge portion and follow it up with a few biscuits because, after all you “haven’t eaten all day”. The reality is, the increased hunger due to not eating all day was so great that it prevented you from thinking clearly about making good choices and lead you to overeat – the one thing you had tried to prevent by not eating that day!

Understanding why we feel the need to eat to make us feel better

When we eat, our body releases the hormone serotonin which is a feel good hormone. So, for a short amount of time while you’re eating, you feel better. But this feeling soon subsides and you are left feeling even worse than before.

Just a thought!

You take a headache tablet to cure a bad head because you know it will make you feel better. You wouldn’t eat a mars bar to cure a bad head because you know it won’t make you feel better. So, why would you eat a mars bar to help you overcome boredom or tension?

How to overcome emotional eating

Now you have identified the reasons you over eat, what can you do to change it?

The problem now is that you have created a habit and now that habit has to be broken.

Using a food diary is a great way to identify when and why you over eat. Having to write everything down also makes you more aware of what you do actually put into your mouth and can often help to stop you doing it. Seeing that you have already had three chocolate biscuits and a packet of crisps can quite often stop you from reaching for any more!

You also need to develop alternative things to do and you need to create new, healthier habits. The most successful way to do this is to remove yourself from the situation. So, for example, get out of the kitchen or up from the sofa and go to the bathroom. Have a nice relaxing bath or have pamper treatments at hand such as face masks and hair care products, hand creams and nail varnish. Take that time that you would normally spend over eating and feeling worse about yourself and use it to pamper yourself. Not only to distract yourself from eating and to break the habit, but to reward yourself for doing it!

When you start to reach for food in response to an eating trigger, find something else to do.

Go for a walk

Phone a friend

Surf the internet

Read a book in the bath

Do some housework

Watch one of our video downloads and follow a 10 minute stomach programme – not only will you have resisted the urge to eat but you’ll of burnt some extra calories too!