There are many kinds of emotional eaters – some eat in response to a negative emotion, while some eat in response to a positive emotion. Below are 12 indicative signs of emotional eating:
#1 You eat when you are stressed. When you have things to do (work / studies / exams), you reach out for food subconsciously. Especially when you’re up late at night and by yourself, though it can happen in the day and in front of others too.
#2 You eat as a response to your emotions. You eat when you feel sad / annoyed / disappointed / angry / lonely/ empty / anxious/ tired / bored. It’s a reaction so subconsciously embedded that you don’t even think about it. You just automatically reach out for food whenever you experience those emotions.
#3 You seek solace in food. When you feel down, you seek out “comfort food”. You bury yourself in food like ice cream, cake, chocolate and cookies, even though they are absolute junk and have zero nutritional value. For some reason you can’t quite explain, they provide you with comfort.
#4 You have trouble losing weight (due to the way you eat). Even though you want to lose weight and you know the technicalities behind losing weight such as the foods and quantities you should eat, you have trouble sticking to your diet. You can’t seem to stop yourself from eating as and when you want to (see next sign).
#5 Your eating is out of control (You can’t stop yourself from eating). You eat even when you are not hungry, and you continue to eat even when you should have stopped long ago. Your desire to eat seems to have taken a life of its own. At times you would even go out of the way just to get food or to satisfy a particular craving, even though you may not be hungry at all.
#6 You eat to feel happy. You are emotionally dependent on food, relying on it for happiness. You derive positive emotions from eating, even though it’s nothing more than a neutral activity to help you live, just like breathing, drinking water, and passing waste. Note this is entirely different from appreciating food as you eat it, which I’m all for. This is about eating specifically to derive the feeling of happiness, which creates a lopsided relationship.
#7 You eat when you feel happy. You see eating is a necessary companion to happy emotions, just like how people eat to celebrate good news.
#8 You are fascinated with eating / food. You love food. You love to eat. When you’re not eating, you can’t help but think about food. You long and crave for it. When you’re eating, it’s like you’re in wonderland. Eating and food draw an intense level of interest from you. Interestingly, none of your fascination is reciprocated by food nor eating.
#9 You use emotionally-charged words to describe food / eating, like “sinful”, “decadent”, “guilt-ridden”, “love”, “lust”, “indulgent”, “enticing”, “craving”, “tempting”, etc, even though food is a non-living thing, incapable of feelings nor returning your love/hate.
#10 You eat even though you are rightfully full. No matter how much you eat, no matter how full you feel, you never feel quite satisfied. Whatever satisfaction you get from eating is momentary, and you return to eating after a while to recapture that emotion.
#11 You think of eating even though you are rightfully full. Even after you’ve had your fill, you continue to think of food. You think about what to eat for the next meal right after you’ve finished eating. You obsess about X, Y, Z food, and when you can eat it. You can’t wait till it’s time to eat again. You think about how satisfied you’ll be when you finally get to eat. You count down to the next meal time.
#12 You have random food cravings out of the blue. Sometimes, you get urges to eat certain food, which you can’t explain yourself. And it’s not even that you’re hungry. It’s just a craving which you must satisfy, else you’ll feel unhappy for the day.
Does any of the above resonate with you? If so, check out my 10 week program, Break the Stronghold: Conquer Emotional Eating.