Not sure if you are emotional eating? How can I tell if I am? What are the 5 biggest signs you are eating your feelings and emotional eating. See my article on secret eating.
It may not be easy to spot when we are emotionally eating. Our eating habits could be so ingrained in us and they could have developed since childhood. We often don’t know we are emotionally eating, until it gets to a point where we notice something, like our weight going up, or our ill health and then we want to do something about it.
It is totally possible to reverse our emotional eating. The first step is awareness. Being aware of what our triggers are and then really being curious with ourselves as to what emotion is driving this eating. Asking ourselves, why did I eat that chocolate? Why did I not chuck those crisps away and being in that state of wondering. It might help to write our feelings down when we reflect back on why we have eaten something.
When you look at these 5 signs, you can use this as a guide. To stop your habits, you need to look inwards and work out what the emotion is about for you.
Notice when you are eating and is it because you are bored, because you are on your own or you have nothing to do, this is a big sign that you are looking to food to be your company and to entertain you. Food can be a good replacement for company and it doesn’t answer back, it is steady and reliably always there for you. When you are eating you are distracted from your feelings or having to face anything. Plus eating stronger foods, like sugary foods, white carby food is very comforting and makes us feel good in that short term moment. If we have been doing that for a long time you can see how it can be so habitual that it can be hard to break. However the way to break this one is by learning to fill your time with activities that you love doing.
Do you find yourself eating when something really annoys you? Are you using food to calm you down? To help you to feel yourself again or just to give you that moment to take a breather and then feel good about yourself again. Here you have learnt along the way then that food will help you to manage that emotion for you, it is being used to calm and make you feel better
Somewhere you have made that association to pair food after being angry. You are only going to know this by being mindful and paying attention to when you binge or go for comfort food. Chocolate, cake, is a good one normally to help us calm down because it is surgary and feels good and we can get lost in the moment of the sugary sweetness. To help break this one, when you notice going for food, do the take 5 deep breaths, stop and press pause and notice your emotions. Taking that second to pause allows you to start processing what is happening so you can start being able to manage your emotions better.
3. The food is there
Do you have food in your cupboards that just must be eaten. Have you bought something like a cake, big bag of crisps and you can just eat some of it, you have to eat all of it, it is like it is screaming out to you – eat me, eat me… Why is it you might say – I can’t just leave the cake, why do I have to eat it… and then it gets frustrating and that frustration might lead to you being down on yourself because what is wrong with you ,,,, or you think you just need more willpower. I will tell you now, willpower is not the answer. You have enough willpower and it is not willpower that will stop you eating food when you are not hungry.
This is emotional eating because there will be a reason you are eating. It come to boredom, or wanting to be fulfilled in someway and we are reaching outside of us to be fulfilled. A question to ask yourself here is – What do I really want? It is taking that deep breath again by stopping pausing and then practising mindfulness and taking note of how you feel when you eat and what that food is doing for you.
Are you feeling low? Tired? Just not yourself, does food will fill that gap for you? Food and carby food like the pasta’s, bread, pastries, can give us this comforting feeling. Especially if we have been out drinking and we feel rubbish the morning after – we head for the rubbishy, carby, greasy food because in that moment it fills the gap, makes our stomach feel full and heavy and that feels good. But what if you’re not feeling low? But you eat lots of carby foods anyway.
Well, this can be two fold, you have learnt that these foods feel good so you develop an addiction to them and you learn unconsciously that these foods fill you up emotionally and feel good in your stomach. They comfort you in a way nothing else can. Ask yourself what would it be like if I didn’t eat that food in that moment? A good trick is to try to imagine and place yourself in that time before you ate the food and imagine not having it, just notice what that is like and what is coming up for you? Is there an empty feeling? a lack of something? Just be curious and pay attention. This is how you find out the emotion that the food is being used to fulfil.
5. You hate waste
Are you eating the food because you cannot bear to throw it away. This will look like eating everything off your plate, going past the point till when you are full but having to eat it because it tasted nice, it’s a waste of food. Do you eat it in your cupboards because it will go out of date soon and that is too good a food and too nice to throw it away. This one is emotional eating because it is hanging on to something, not being able to throw something away even when it is not healthy for you. The food is better off in the bin because on you it is just going to cause you to put on weight.
Ask yourself, what would it feel like to throw it away? What emotions come up for you? By throwing food in the bin you are benefitting yourself by it not being there to eat it and not tempting yourself to eat it. What are you holding onto it for really? What would happen if you let it all go? An interesting question is to ponder – do you hold onto other stuff in your life? Stuff that could be thrown or is not of use, or just longer than necessary. Is this stuff as in household stuff or people, relationships or things? There is possibly a connection there. Read more details here.