Emotional eating signs and solutions

By Faeza
23 March 2016


Food doesn’t just fuel our body, it also serves our emotional needs. We’ve all been there; going through a breakup so you stuff your face with ice-cream.

Pushing your body through a particularly punishing gym workout, and treating yourself to something naughty after. Whatever your reasons, emotional eating affects the majority of us.

However, consuming food in this way can be destructive, so it’s important you look out for the tell-tale signs so you can nip it in the bud before it comes a serious issue.

Signs you’re emotionally eating:

Do you eat more when you’re stressed?

Often emotional eating is a completely subconscious action, which can be brought on my stress, anxiety or fear. If you find yourself reaching for food in these situations, then it could be more than just a knee jerk reaction to a hard time.

Do you eat even when you’re full?

Grazing after mealtimes or snacking throughout the day could be another tell-tale sign, especially if you never seem full. Also watch out for piling your plate high and going back for second helpings even if you no longer feel hungry.

Does your hunger come on rapidly?

Hunger actually comes on gradually, so if you keep finding yourself suddenly desperate for food then emotional eating could be at play.

Do you reward yourself with food?

Everybody is probably guilty of this now and again, but if you constantly view food as a reward then it’s time to understand why.

Do you feel guilty after you’ve binged?

When you eat to fuel your body, you should never feel guilty about it. After all hunger is your body’s way of telling you need food, so fulfilling physical hunger should be a satisfying experience. However if you’re reaching for food when you know you’re not actually hungry, it can leave you feeling ashamed and powerless. Viewing food as your friend is another red flag.

If any of these resonate with you, then now is the time to take action. To start with, when hunger strikes ask yourself if you are truly hungry? If in doubt, sip on water, as often our body just needs hydrating.

Identify trigger foods, especially treats like sweet things, and keep a food diary. This way you’ll easily be able to assess when and what you’re eating.

Slow down and savour meal times, as feeling full isn’t an instant process. Enjoy your food, but don’t place your emotions on it.