Emotional eating is an incredibly serious disorder where people turn to food as a source of comfort, especially during periods of high stress. Though it seems like something that only a few would experience throughout their lives, it's something that many people experience, even in mild forms. For example, think about a time when you've had a big day and gotten takeout for dinner. You probably thought to yourself, "I deserve this." or "This is a reward."
It may seem light-hearted, but these are all forms of emotional eating.
It's important to note that sometimes our bodies truly do need the comfort of a cheeky meal. At Jomeis Fine Foods, we always say it's okay to treat yourself now and then. But, it's important not to become reliant on food to cheer yourself up, cure boredom or reward yourself. Doing this can be a slippery slope which can negatively impact your diet and health in the long term.
So, the following blog aims to help you identify the signs of emotional eating to assist you in discovering if your eating is becoming a problem. As always, this blog is only a guide, and you should seek the support of your GP or dietician to find out more.
Who does emotional eating affect?
While it may be believed that emotional eating only impacts those with mental conditions, emotional eating can impact everyone. Dangerously, it can also be a catalyst for some mental conditions, including anorexia, bulimia and binge eating.
So, you must recognise emotional eating in yourself or someone you love to prevent the long-term repercussions.
It mostly impacts those who are under high stress from work and life. But, it can also affect those who experience sudden changes in their emotions. For example, if someone was contemptuous, then they were suddenly saddened by an internal or external force, they may turn to food as a resolve.
People who emotionally eat will often have comfort foods. These are usually sweet or starchy, such as chocolate or chips. While they may taste great and are okay in moderation, in the long term, this can also lead to serious health repercussions.
It's important to note that emotional eating can also come in the form of drinking. For example, someone may choose soft drink to brighten a dull mood.
Therefore, anyone who chooses to comfort themselves with food for any reason other than hunger can be a victim of emotional eating. But, it's always best to consult a professional before diagnosing yourself or someone you know.
What are the impacts of emotional eating?
We've discussed some of the impacts above, but here is a list of some of the serious impacts of emotional eating.
Increased Blood Pressure - Eating foods that are high in fats and sugar as a source of comfort can include blood pressure. This can make the body more susceptible to heart attacks, strokes and artery damage.
Fatigue - Emotional eating can substitute healthy and nutritious eating. For example, a person may eat on impulse in the late afternoon, which then keeps them from eating dinner. The lack of nutrients in their diet can then make it difficult for them to find the energy they need to carry out the day's tasks. As a side-effect, lack of energy can slow production which can heighten stress, therefore continuing the vicious cycle of emotional eating.
Guilt - Emotional eating isn't invisible or unknown to the person experiencing it. On many occasions, those that eat emotionally are aware that they are eating to suppress their emotions. Once they have returned to a stable state, this can lead to intense guilt or the feeling of letting themselves down.
Poor gut health - Without the right nutrients in the body, the gut won't maintain itself. This can lead to intense bloating, constipation and a range of stomach problems. If they continue for a long time, they can contribute to autoimmune diseases.
How can people overcome emotional eating?
Just like every person will overcome mental health challenges differently, they will also overcome emotional eating differently. So, there is no certain way to help treat it. It is recommended that anyone experiencing emotional eating sees a professional who can help them recover fully.
It's also vital that people recognise that food is not the solution to heightened stress and that they attempt to seek another outlet. However, as they are on the road to recognising this, here are some proven tactics:
- Keep a journal - this can help you track which moments are catalysts for emotional eating. You can then redirect eating to a more positive coping mechanism.
- Recognise the problem - it's okay to admit that you may be experiencing an eating problem. Recognising it can help you make note of why you may be emotionally eating.
- Swap out your snacks - you can't stop emotionally eating overnight. But you can stop chips for fruit and chocolate for muesli bars. Opting for a healthier choice will offset the long-term impacts of poor eating while you work on yourself. You can choose the Jomeis Find Foods range if you're still looking for something comforting without any of the guilt.
Never forget that you have support networks
Your family, friends and the team at Jomeis Fine Foods will always be happy to help should you need support understanding and overcoming emotional eating. Explore our range today to discover food recommendations that can nourish your mind, body and soul and help offset the impacts of emotional eating.