Emotional eating is a lot more common than you think. Plenty of people suffer from it. It usually becomes apparent during early adulthood. You might've started when you were in college.
Emotional eating is a lot more common than you think. Plenty of people suffer from it. It usually becomes apparent during early adulthood. You might've started when you were in college. However, it can often follow us long after. Learning how emotional eating works could help you understand what's happening. Then, overcoming it might feel a lot easier. As always, starting is the toughest part. Once you've made the first steps, it gets easier.
What Causes Emotional Eating?
First, let's distinguish between emotional eating and real hunger. Real hunger is a physical sensation. You'll feel tired, and it might be difficult to concentrate. Sometimes, your stomach will even rumble. Emotional eating feels a lot different. It's usually caused by a sudden surge of emotions. You might be studying for an exam, or you could've got some bad news. No matter what, emotional eating seeks to cover up negative emotions. Here are a few of the most common causes.
When you're feeling stressed, the body releases cortisol. That's one of our stress hormones. It helps your body prepare to take action, but it can drop your blood sugar as well. Your body starts burning through sugar so fast it's hard not to feel hungry. Lots of things could make you feel stressed. Your classes might be more difficult than you'd expected. Or, you could be struggling to keep up with your tasks at work.
Another reason people start emotional eating has to do with their hormones. Gastrin and other hormones help regulate our hunger. If they're out of balance, you'll want to eat all the time. Elevated cortisol levels can impact your body's hormone production. Then, it can start to affect your hunger cycles. You'll stay hungry even after you've eaten.
Lack of Sleep
Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your body. When you're sleeping, the body repairs itself. It also helps you maintain proper energy levels. It's natural to seek food when you're sleepy. Food gives us energy.
Why Do People Eat for Comfort?
Ok, so people eat because they're emotional. But, not all emotional people eat for comfort. How does that start happening? We're not exactly sure why some people start emotional eating and others don't. But, it could have something to do with what you learned during childhood. Other reasons include your friend group and coping mechanisms.
Growing up around other emotional eaters could have a lasting impact on you. Did your family use food as a coping mechanism while you were young? If so, you might start eating when you're emotional, too. The good thing is you can overcome it.
Poor Coping Mechanisms
Sometimes, people just don't know healthy ways of coping with stress. Everyone needs to find some way to deal with it. But, never every coping mechanism is healthy for us.
You might've spent time around emotional eaters when you got a little older. Do your friends also eat as a coping mechanism? That might have something to do with your coping style, too.
Overcoming Emotional Eating
Overcoming emotional eating is all about building habits. First, you've got to recognize it's a problem. Then, you'll take small steps to improve yourself. Over time, you'll notice you're eating less and less whenever you're emotional.
Identify Common Emotional Triggers
Everybody has something that triggers them. What are your triggers? If you've had problems in your relationship, that could be one of them. You might try keeping a journal. Write down every time you started emotional eating. Then, jot down a few thoughts on why it started happening. You'll start noticing patterns, eventually. Once you've identified your triggers, avoid them. You won't feel compelled to eat if you're not being triggered. That's not always possible, though. There are still plenty of things you can do to improve.
Eat More Plant Foods
One of the best things you can do for your body is to eat more plants. That includes both fruit and vegetables. Plant foods have lots of fiber in them. Fiber helps us feel full for longer, and it doesn't contain any calories either.
Move Your Body More
Starting an exercise regimen could help regulate your hormones. Plus, you'll burn more calories, too. Regular exercise can even help to control your hunger levels.
Start a Mindfulness Practice
Finally, start meditating more often. Meditation is a great stress reliever. Learning to relieve stress in healthy ways is the core of getting better.
Getting Over Your Emotional Eating Habits
Learning to overcome emotional eating isn't just possible. It's guaranteed as long as you're putting in the effort. Start by learning what's causing it. Then, focus on learning new ways to deal with stress. As long as you stick with it, your emotional eating doesn't stand a chance.