Numerous issues contribute to being overweight or obese, including hormonal problems, certain medications, and genetics. Another common issue among people who struggle with their weight is that they often partake in emotional eating.
Eating due to stress or depression leads eating excess calories because you’re eating when you’re not hungry, but you can break the habit.
What to Know About Emotional Eating
Emotional eating, also known as stress eating, occurs when you eat while feeling depressed, angry, or anxious in order to curb your feelings. When you’re eating because of an emotion, food helps you feel better, even if you’re not hungry. In some cases, you might even eat when you feel happy as a way to celebrate.
Signs of Emotional Eating
Eating out of boredom is another form of emotional eating. If you eat when you have nothing else to do or even have to snack while you watch television, it classifies as stress eating.
A common sign of emotional eating is continuing to eat no matter how full you are just because of the joy food brings to your life.
Often, you don’t even realize you’re eating because of an emotion. You might pick a leftover food on your plate from dinner while you’re venting to someone. On the other hand, you may sit down for a meal and eat until you’re overly full to the point where you don’t feel well.
People who don’t emotionally eat associate food with a necessity to live while someone who stress eats thinks of it as a way to feel happy or celebrate. They might even think of it frequently and just the thought of food brings them joy.
Foods You Choose When Stress Eating
The foods you choose to consume when you’re feeling an emotion is part of the problem with this behavior. It’s common for someone who is eating to feel happy or suppress an emotion to seek out food that doesn’t have any nutritional value, such as the following:
- Ice cream
You might notice you have random cravings for certain foods, even though you’re not hungry. You might not be able to explain why you’re craving this food.
Consequences of Eating Due to Emotions
Anytime you’re eating for any other reason besides hunger, it can lead to you gaining weight needlessly. When you eat out of stress or because of any other emotion, you usually eat more calories than your body needs. Since you’re likely not compensating for the extra calories with exercise, you gain weight.
Once you gain weight, you’re more at risk for developing a wide range of health problems, such as:
- Heart disease
- Certain cancers like liver, endometrial, and kidney cancer.
- High blood pressure
After you gain weight, you start to feel self-conscious, which takes a toll on your emotional health. You might even start feeling depressed, which could potentially exacerbate the problem.
How to Stop Emotional Eating
If you eat emotionally, you probably find it difficult to break the habit, but a few simple tips can help.
Evaluating When it Happens
The first step in how to stop stress eating is to evaluate your eating habits to understand what emotions cause you to eat. By learning what triggers your stress eating, you’re able to take notice of when it happens and take the necessary actions to change it.
Choosing Other Interests
Think of something else you like doing besides eating. Maybe you like riding on your exercise bike or partaking in a workout video or even watching TV. Practice emotional control and replace eating every time you feel stressed or depressed with this activity.
Developing Better Eating Habits
Limiting the amount of junk food you purchase is part of how to stop stress eating. If it’s not in your home, you will likely not drive to go get it when you’re stressed.
Schedule your meals at the same time each day. Once you get into a routine of not eating in between meals and when you’re not hungry, you’re more likely to continue living a healthier lifestyle because you’ll start to notice yourself losing weight.
Give yourself only a certain amount of food at each meal. Once you finish eating your meal, throw the excess out, so you’re not tempted to pick at it throughout the rest of the night.
Stop eating as soon as you feel full. Eventually, once you get into the habit, you’ll notice it doesn’t feel bad to eat a proper portion.
Start Making Better Choices
It takes willpower to stop eating due to emotions, but if you know the steps on how to stop stress eating, you can start making better choices. By reducing the amount of junk food in your home, participating in activities besides eating, and other similar lifestyle changes, you can live a healthier lifestyle and feel better while doing it.