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3 Reasons Why You're an Emotional Eater

By Kate Gardner

Comfort eating. Stress eating. Hiding from the kids and shoving chocolate in my mouth. Call it what you want, there are definitely times when I eat, not because I'm hungry, but because I'm having a moment only food can fix. While it's hard to say how many people are with me, this kind of emotional eating is very common. Maybe you do it too. 

Emotional Eating

Emotional eating is pretty self-explanatory. It means you're eating because of an emotion. You could be stressed, depressed, anxious, bored, lonely, or ashamed. Sometimes you might eat to avoid an emotion. Other times you might eat in order to cause a good feeling. In college, I got in the habit of eating chocolate bars as a way to be nice to myself when I was having a hard time. Even though the chocolate bar didn't solve whatever problem I was facing, it did make me feel better for a short time. 

Why We Use Food  

Some say emotional eaters use food to fill a void when they feel emotionally empty. While that may be the reason for some, there are a number of other reasons someone may eat in response to emotions. PsychologyToday.com walks us through some of the motivations to emotionally eat. 

  • Pleasure - Food, especially treats, are a convenient and inexpensive way to find some pleasure in your day. And, since eating sugar and fat is known to cause our brains to release opioids, treats do have the potential to make us feel temporarily better. 

  • Avoidance - Bad feelings are not fun to feel. Eating can be a distraction, allowing us to block out feelings we don't want to have. 

  • Body hate - If you don't like your body or the way it looks, you probably feel a lot of negative feelings. Hating your body can cause you to turn to food to avoid those feelings. 

Managing Emotional Eating 

Life can be hard and everyone eats emotionally sometimes. Emotional eating isn't a problem if you only do it every once in a while, but many of us find we do it every day. If that's the case, it's important to figure out why you're emotionally eating. If you can eliminate the trigger, you may eliminate the emotional eating. If it's not possible to fix whatever is stressing you out or making you sad, you may need to practice facing bad feelings without food. Finding a replacement to make you feel better can help, though not much is likely to be as effective as food.

It is possible to cut down on your emotional eating. You don't have to be the perfect example of self-control and you don't have to avoid treats for the rest of your life. And remember, you're not alone. 

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Coppell, Tex. 

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