Emotional eating is a phrase that most of us are familiar with, but it can be difficult for us to recognize it in ourselves. We assume that it’s ‘lack of willpower’ or some perceived weakness within us. But it’s estimated that 75% of overeating is caused by our emotions. So it’s clear that feelings have a profound effect on our eating habits, even if we don’t recognize it at the time.
“75% of overeating is caused by our emotions”.
After cancer, I went through a phase where I just didn’t care; it was almost like I was torturing myself for having cancer by eating lots of junk and eating way more than I needed to. After digging deep, I found it’s because I felt I wasn’t worth it or good enough because I had cancer; I was eating to fill that void. I honestly felt like, “what kind of trainer am I…I had cancer and here I am supposed to be the epitome of health!” You see? It isn’t always logical, but our reason for emotional eating does come down to our thoughts, our limiting beliefs, and fears. So in this article, I want to share some signs of emotional eating to help you recognize it, which is the first step to addressing it…
#1 – You eat as a reward
This is so common, yet most people don’t make the link to emotional eating. I was doing this when I was over-booked; I had 15 sessions and then on the way home, I’d grab an ice cream cone because I deserved it.
People who are stressed or unhappy at work often use food as a treat to reward a hard day at the office. The Friday night takeout is a typical example, where it’s used as a reward for completing a week of work. In cases like these people aren’t treating food as fuel, but rather a lifeline.
#2 – You eat to cheer yourself up
Are you guilty of this? I am too… Using food as a tool to cheer ourselves up is something many of us do. When we’re feeling down, we reach for the snacks. If we don’t have plans for the weekend and are feeling a bit lonely, we cheer ourselves up with a little Saturday night feast. Relationship break-up? Ice-cream!
But the fact is, this isn’t resolving our negative feelings. In fact, it sometimes makes us feel worse with that gult feeling after! So although it might seem harmless, it is detrimental to our self-esteem.
#3 – You eat absentmindedly
This one might seem counterintuitive. If you’re not thinking when you eat, then how can it be linked to your emotions? With me, I would need a shut out; you know, when you need to escape from your reality and check out? For me, it was eating in front of the TV with my favorite fast food (super-sized); this gave me the “check-out” I needed and I just let myself eat…and eat…and eat.
How did I get over it? By turning off the TV, journaling why I actually wanted to check-out (what in my life was making me unhappy or over-worked that made me feel I needed to escape?), and fixing that issue. We need to stop and actually taste our food, enjoy it, and take our power back, right?!
Do you see yourself doing any of these? Or maybe even all 3? I have spent the past few years helping my clients work through these and I’d love to help you too! Sign up for my free workshop. In it, you’ll learn practical strategies for facing it head on and regaining power over your health and get some free work outs too! Sign up here.