Resources for parents of at-risk and troubled teens.



September 2010

Dealing with Emotional Eating

by Staff, on at risk blog, at risk youth, Dealing with Emotional Eating, emotional eater, emotional eating, emotional hunger, feeding your emotions

What is emotional eating? It is a way to deal with feelings through eating to put it simply. We all do that, every single one of has done something that would classify as emotional eating at least once in our lives, but unlike most people there are those that have that as a disorder and can’t help themselves. We all eat out of boredom, but emotional eaters do it excessively and in the end that affects their looks, their physical and mental health, their self-image and self-esteem is hurting and that causes even deeper emotional problems and sometimes overeating to amazing proportions.

It is very rare that people connect the dots between feelings and eating, but there are a few things that will help you understand emotional eating and as such it will give you a good background in order to help you change it.

One myth that surrounds emotional eating is that it is triggered by negative feelings. The fact is that emotional eating can be triggered by negative feelings, but not more than it can be triggered by positive feelings, any type of emotion can trigger emotional eating, no exceptions. In some cases it may be tied to major events in life, but in most cases it is a great number of small stresses which cause the emotional eating, that cause people to look for comfort in the food.

One of the facts is that emotional eating can be traced as a learned pattern, when we are kids parents often gave us a treat after we do something good, like a candy. Such a person may grow up to treat himself with candy every time he or she does something good, also a kid that was given cookies in order to stop crying may turn to cookies every time he or she feels sad.

Here are a few facts that may help you recognize emotional hunger from physical hunger:

-    Emotional hunger comes suddenly while physical hunger comes gradually
-    Emotional hunger is manifested mostly with a craving for a certain type of food
-    Emotional hunger leads people to eat more than they normally would
-    In most cases emotional hunger causes guilt after eating

Here are some of the questions you may ask yourself in order to find out if you are an emotional eater:

-    Are you eating larger portions than you usually do?
-    Do you eat at unusual times?
-    Do you lose control when you are around food?
-    Are you anxious about certain events and do you find yourself eating in those situations?
-    Is there something that troubles you for a longer period of time?
-    Are you already overweight or has there been a fast increase in weight?
-    Are there other members of my family that use food as comfort and a way to feed their emotions?

Answering yes to two or more of these questions means that there is a great possibility that you are an emotional eater and that you need to work on your coping mechanism, the first step is to identify the problem, after that you can seek professional help. Staff