When we are hungry – we eat and satisfy our stomach! But, there are times when we do not eat to satisfy our hunger but rather when stressed, lonely, bored, doubtful, angry, feel low, want to kill time, comfort ourselves, simply as a reward, or exhausted, and endless other situations when there is no necessity to ‘over’ feed ourselves.
Maybe eating solves everything on a temporary basis but always remember – Food doesn’t fix your emotional problems, in fact it often makes you feel worse – but still we tend to stuff ourselves! And later on feel bad about the excessively comsumed food, what that’ll do to your skin, body shape and weight to the added yet unsolved emotional difficulty that you may be going through.
Everyone’s body is associated with different patterns of eating. Some skip breakfast, some eat very fast and a lot, some at very large intervals, and much more. The physical hunger needs to be satisfied. On the other hand, when we are already full, say to ourselves there is no more room for anything more, and a bowl of ice cream, lemon tart, chocolate ganache, or your favorite blueberry cheesecake is in front of you – you tend to make space just at its arrival on your table and feel guilty a little later post overeating – you have indulged in ‘Emotional Eating’.
Emotional eating in simple words is eating to make your-self feel better but not when physically hungry.
You go on eating anything and almost everything that you see without noticing what flavor is it or how much you are eating – in short you engage in mindless eating habits. When you’re emotionally hungry, it arises suddenly, you crave sugary or fatty foods, you want more and more of these, and triggers guilt and shame.
We must learn to become more aware of what we are eating (it gets difficult, but it’s not impossible) and importantly why we are eating – are you eating to satisfy your physical hunger or emotional hunger? If the reason is later – you must consciously stop even if you’ve taken a few bites and then realize it. Try doing this more often, and you will notice a positive change in your eating choices and habits.
Maintain an eating diary. This is the second most important step and comes very handy to analyze your eating habits. Divide your book into two parts – label one as ‘real hunger’ with a tick-able column whether empty or full and the other as ‘just hunger’ with a tick-able column whether satisfied or unsatisfied. See which part of the book fills up faster and you know if it’s the real hunger then you’re good. If it’s ‘just hunger’ then you need to get more practical with your eating patterns.
Substitute ‘just eating’ with other activities like – listening to music, taking a walk, talking to a dear one, exercise, sleep, read a book, knit, write, and do anything else besides eating when not hungry for it affects your physical as well as mental health!
Lastly, start noticing your actual self a little more and alter the necessary and healthy changes required. If needed, be willing to speak to a professional as there is never a better substitute available.