You know that feeling that you ate too much? That you felt full but you took another portion of food anyway? That you want to eat but you don’t feel hungry? Or maybe you need to carry around something sweet or salty to eat, just in case? Maybe you have a weakness for baked goods?
Over the past few decades our relationship with food has gotten more and more complex.
We are inundated with new fad diets all the time, while research shows that most of them do not help in the long term.
This relationship we have with food doesn’t pertain to the act of eating alone - we are constantly thinking about food, planning what and when to eat, researching types of food and how they affect our bodies, and more. To put it simply, we think about food all the time.
Eating has become much more than meeting a physical need; eating has become social as well.
We go out to a nice restaurant when we have something to celebrate, and holidays are a time of festive meals.
There is nothing wrong with that per say, but what does become problematic is when food becomes tied to situations in which we are not happy, such as sadness, disappointment, despair and frustration. In those situations we tend to eat with no control.
Emotional eating is described as eating when there is no physical hunger but rather when we are sad, anxious, tired, angry, disappointed in ourselves or in others or many other reasons which are not physical hunger.
Eating is considered emotional eating therefore when we eat in order to feel better about ourselves or a situation rather than to simply satisfy hunger.
Emotional eating is also characterized by eating large quantities of food with no control, and without any pleasure. The need to eat comes from an impulse to do so, and after one finishes to eat, feels guilt and shame.
This relationship with food is often a result of our hectic lives; our daily routines are filled with stress and tension, and because of that we often do not have time to eat correctly throughout the day.
When we do not eat correctly or treat our bodies the way we should, we then start feeling guilt, shame, disappointment, sadness, and the many other feelings which lead to emotional eating.
These two factors, not eating correctly throughout the day and feeling bad about it, lead to uncontrolled eating.
Eating this way, hurried and uncontrolled, gives us a temporary feeling of calm, but in the end causes feelings of guilt and shame, which then bring on more emotional eating.
Emotional eating is also characterized by loss of control, from the first impulsive feeling to the type of food, how long we eat and how much eat. Loss of control, body image issues, low self-worth and changed moods are all side effects of emotional eating.
The roots of emotional eating are psychological, and cannot be treated by diets. Eating this way is a symptom of something much deeper, sometimes even subconscious, and affects our quality of living.
It is recommended to turn to a psychologist in order to treat emotional eating, and in order to regain a sense of control and health, both physical and emotional.