Admittedly, us humans tend to cope with difficult situations by seeking comfort. This is an evolutionary mechanism which helped us survive as a species. This seems to also be the case regarding the act of eating. Although food is necessary for our survival, it has been evolved to be far more than just fuel for physical health. Nowadays, a lot of people turn to food for comfort and stress relief, hoping to find a way to satisfy their emotional hunger.
Is emotional eating harmful for me?
Basically, emotional eating is not connected with just any type of food, but specifically junk food. This occurs because parts of our brain are rewarded neurochemically, when eating high-fat foods. And it comes as no surprise that, any behaviour that is rewarded, will most likely be repeated.
Through this unhealthy relationship with food, people simply eat in order to fill their emotional needs. On one hand, this is understandable and part of being human. However, those two components are not compatible: emotional eating cannot fix emotional problems.
How do I know if I have an unhealthy relationship with food?
In case you tend to repeat these habits daily, then you might have an issue of emotional eating.
- Do you eat in order to calm yourself when you are sad?
- Do you eat until you are 100% full?
- Do you eat more when you're feeling stressed?
- Does food act as a reward for yourself?
- How can I improve my relationship with food?
Having a healthy relationship with food, isn't something that can be achieved overnight. Contrariwise, it's something that you'll have to work on. Luckily, there are strategies which can assist you in this journey and help you develop healthier eating habits.
Find the causes of unhealthy eating. You may be able to decrease emotional eating, by figuring out why you need comfort food in the first place. Does it act as a reward, or does it console you? By recognizing these patterns, you will be able to search for alternative ways to solve your emotional problems.
Keep a food diary. By figuring out what your triggers are, you will be better equipped in order to control your emotional eating. Keeping a food diary with information about how you feel when you eat, can help you rebuild your habits.
Dismiss guilt. Eating snack foods every now and then, is not a reason to feel guilty. Allowing yourself to enjoy certain foods moderately, will probably decrease daily cravings. Feeling bad because of what we eat, can lead to a vicious cycle of unhealthy eating. It's acceptable to treat yourself sometimes. You most certainly deserve it.
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