Emotional eating is a bigger problem than most of us realise.
Have you ever experienced a craving for certain foods when you’ve been angry, sad, or stressed? This is emotional eating.
Many people when they’re at their weakest point emotionally, they can find themselves turning to food as a way to overcome negative emotions.
Unfortunately, this emotional rollercoaster can lead to unhealthy eating, that does little to provide your mind and body with the nutrients it needs to survive.
The good news is it’s not impossible to regain control of your eating habits.
Emotional eating in more detail…
Generally speaking, emotional hunger comes on suddenly, whereas physical hunger occurs gradually.
If you’re unsure whether you’re eating in response to emotions, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Is my eating paired with an upsetting emotion?
- Am I eating in secret?
- Does my eating feel out of control?
- Do I continue eating despite feeling full?
- Do I feel guilty after I eat?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, you should discuss these matters with a qualified professional. This may be a difficult step, however ultimately they can help you manage your emotions without resorting to food.
The hunger scale
The hunger scale is a very effect tool to overcoming mindless eating, and it can put you more in touch with your hunger state.
#1 Beyond hungry – You’re so hungry you feel light-headed.
#2 Very uncomfortable - You feel irritable and unable to concentrate.
#3 Uncomfortably hungry - Your stomach is rumbling.
#4 Slightly uncomfortable - You’re just beginning to feel signs of hunger.
#5 Comfortable – You’re more or less satisfied, but could eat a little more.
#6 Perfectly comfortable - You feel satisfied.
#7 Full – You’re a little bit uncomfortable.
#8 Uncomfortably full - You feel bloated.
#9 Very uncomfortably full – Your clothes feel tighter; your stomach hurts a little.
#10 Stuffed – You can barely move, you feel like you never want to see food again.
A few guidelines:
- To avoid overeating, try to eat when you’re feeling 2, 3 or 4.
- When you begin to feel “comfortable” or “perfectly comfortable” stop eating and wait until the next scheduled meal or snack.
- If you’re trying to lose weight, stop at “comfortable,” this way you’ll be eating a little less than your body is burning.
- Don’t allow yourself to get to “beyond hungry” or “very uncomfortable,” since you’ll be more likely to overeat.
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