Everyone gets upset at one point or another. What’s different is how people approach the feelings of being upset. Do you run to your kitchen to grab a snack to deal with your negative emotions? If so, you could be showcasing a behavior known as emotional eating.
In this blog, we discuss what emotional eating is, why it’s dangerous, and how to address the issue in your own life. This way, you can prevent further issues like developing eating disorders. Furthermore, we talk about what happens when emotional eating turns into binge eating disorder. And, what individuals living with this condition can expect from getting the help they need to gain healing and recovery.
What is Emotional Eating?
Another term for stress eating, emotional eating is when a person eats to attempt to manage or suppress negative emotions. While food is meant to nourish the body, we don’t only eat when we’re hungry. We eat not only to fuel our body’s movement but for our pleasure too. And, in many cases, stress eating is the result of using this pleasure as a way to heal or overcome inward pain. So, if you’ve ever binged a box of chocolates after a bad breakup or ordered a pizza after a long day at work, you’ve experienced emotional eating.
Is Emotional Eating Common?
Yes, this type of behavior is very common. But, just because stress eating isn’t uncommon and the chances are that every person reading this article has done so at some point in their lives, doesn’t mean it’s okay. Sure, grabbing an ice cream to celebrate acing a test or ordering Chinese food because you scored that new job isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it’s actually good to reward yourself for hard work. But, the fact of the matter is that emotional eating to deal with emotions regularly isn’t healthy. And, that depending upon emotional eating for emotional support can lead to other self-damaging behaviors. Plus, the development of mental health conditions including eating disorders.
How to Know if You’re an Emotional Eater
Eating to deal with emotions is not something that everyone should be worried about. However, if these behaviors become a pattern, it’s definitely something that should be addressed. This way, you can address these behaviors before it turns into something more serious – a mental health condition like an eating disorder. So, look for behaviors that characterize an emotional eater in your own life like:
- Eating more than you normally would when you’re stressed or feeling depressed
- You often give yourself fatty or sugary foods as a reward
- Eating until you feel overly full
- Eating to make yourself feel safe or feel better
- Wanting to eat even though you’re not hungry
- Having little or no control over how much you eat or when you eat
- Feeling regret after eating to ease emotions
Learning to Identify Your Emotional Eating Triggers
To halt these behaviors before they progress, it’s best to understand what triggers them to begin with. Then, once you know what triggers this type of eating, you can begin to actively become aware of your eating behaviors. Some triggers of emotional eating may include:
- Increased stress loads
- Suppressing emotions like fear, anger, loneliness, and sadness
- Social nervousness
- Prolonged childhood habits
How Emotional Eating can Lead to Binge Eating Disorder
If people don’t recognize their emotional eating triggers, these behaviors can lead to an eating disorder known as binge eating disorder. The characteristics of this eating disorder include eating more than one should, hiding eating behaviors from others, and feelings of guilt and shame after eating. If you or someone you love is an emotional eater but things have just keep getting worse, the development of binge eating disorder may be a reality.
Fortunately, treatment can help individuals who have developed binge eating disorder. Here at Willow Place for Women, we help women gain freedom from a life of unhealthy eating behaviors. To learn more about our eating disorder treatment programs, contact us today.