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People who eat in response to stress or difficult problems, or who often eat comfort foods when feeling down or bored are eating emotionally. There are many steps a person can take to break free from emotional eating. For example, he may look for ways to lower his stress level and seek support from family members and other loved ones. He may also take steps to get more sleep and choose healthier snacks. In some cases, however, those who are trying to break free from emotional eating may benefit most from the help of a professional mental health counselor.
Emotional eating is a serious issue that can harm a person in a number of ways. For example, it may lead to obesity and health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. It can also harm a person’s self-image and leave him feeling depressed, worthless, and ashamed. In some cases, emotional eating may even develop into an eating disorder. When this occurs, the emotional eater may have great difficulty returning to healthy eating habits on his own.
People who eat in response to stress may benefit from finding other ways to deal with difficult situations and emotions. For example, an emotional eater may take up yoga or begin to meditate on a daily basis. Some people find movement helps them to deal with stress. In such a case, a person may begin to jog or do some other form of exercise. This solution offers the added benefit of promoting better health and weight loss.
A person who is trying to break free from emotional eating may find it easier to do so if he has a support network of people to talk to. For many people, family members and friends can provide support as they try to put an end to emotional eating. Unfortunately, however, some people don’t have loved ones who are willing to provide the support they need. In such a case, joining a support group for emotional eaters may help. There are even some emotional-eater support groups that meet online.
Putting some effort into planning may also help a person break free from emotional eating. For example, planning his day to include enough sleep may help a person avoid overeating that is tied to the need for an energy boost and may also help him to better deal with stress. Stress management is often more difficult for those who are sleep deprived. Likewise, planning healthy snacks may help the emotional eater to avoid grabbing junk food when a craving becomes overwhelming. Even something as simple as planning recreational activities may help a person avoid the boredom that can lead to emotional eating.
When emotional eating gets out of control, a person may turn to a mental health counselor for help. A mental health professional can help an emotional eater to discover the root of his eating issues and develop better coping skills for dealing with life’s stresses. He may also evaluate the emotional eater for an eating disorder. If the individual does have an eating disorder, treating it may help him to break free from emotional eating.
I didn't think I had a binge disorder back in my twenties, but I realized there was a definite connection between my emotional state and my hunger level. I worked at an all-you-can-eat buffet at the time, and some of my co-workers teased me about how much food I ate during my lunch break. I realized I would eat three or four heaping plates of food the day after I had a fight with my girlfriend or I got a rejection letter in the mail from a magazine editor.
I also ballooned up to 325 pounds during that time, and I was never a big person before then. I finally joined Overeaters Anonymous, and my sponsor showed me how to overcome emotional eating. I found another job, since working in a buffet for me was like a recovering alcoholic working in a bar.
I used to be a victim of emotional overeating, and it seemed that what helped me the most was getting the rest of my life back in balance. I couldn't just tell myself to stop having an overeating disorder and that would be that. It's like being an alcoholic or drug abuser. I knew what I was doing was unhealthy, but it was also the thing I thought was holding me together. I couldn't just back away from the table cold turkey.
Once I started feeling better about other aspects of my life, like my job and my relationship, then I felt ready to stop emotional eating. I had to get into better physical shape for my work, and I now had someone in my life who cared about my health and eating habits. It was much easier to go from endless buffets to a nearly vegetarian diet when I had those kinds of incentives.
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