Are you feeding your feelings?

I have this little quiz for you….
The last time you ate too much:
1. Did you notice your hunger coming on fast, or did it grow gradually?
 Fast         Gradual
2. When you got hungry, did you feel an almost desperate need to eat something right away?
 Yes          No
3. When you ate, did you pay attention to what went in your mouth, or did you just stuff it in   without thinking?
 Paid attention                 Stuffed it in
4. When you got hungry, would any nutritious food have sufficed, or did you need a certain type of food or treat to satisfy yourself?
 Any nutritious food would have sufficed                Needed a certain type of food
5. Did you feel guilty after you ate?
 Yes          No
6. Did you eat when you were emotionally upset or experiencing feelings of “emptiness?” 
 Yes          No
7. Did you eat very quickly? 
 Yes          No
Most people think that we eat only when we are hungry however that is not always the case. We eat because it is certain time of the day, we eat because others are eating, we eat for social reasons and most importantly, we eat for emotional reasons.

Emotional eating can be described as eating behavior that changes with changes in a person’s mood. Remember the time you were stressed about your something and wolfed down an entire bar of chocolate and still felt unsatisfied or the way chips disappear from your bowl when you are bored or alone? 
Those were the occasions when you gave in to your emotions and indulged in food as a form of escape instead of dealing with them.

Emotional eating can start from a very young age. A simple considerate gesture from your parents who bought you sweets when you were feeling low or as a reward for doing well in school can initiate the behavior of seeking comfort food when you are feeling low or hurt, tough and chewy food when you are angry and sugary treat when you are tired.
How to tell the difference? 
  • Physical hunger begins with a tummy rumble, then it becomes a stronger grumble, 
  • and finally it evolves into hunger pangs, but it’s a slow process, very different from emotional hunger, which has a sudden, dramatic onset.

  • Emotional hunger demands food immediately and it wants immediate satisfaction. Physical hunger, on the other hand, will wait for food.

  • A difference between physical and emotional hunger involves mindfulness. If you have emotional hunger, you’ll want more food even after you’re stuffed.
  • Emotional hunger often demands particular foods in order to be fulfilled.If you’re emotionally hungry,however, only cake or ice cream or your particular preferred indulgence will seem appealing.
  • Emotional hunger often results in guilt or promises to do better next time. Physical hunger has no guilt attached to it 
  • When you are feeding physical hunger, you can eat your food and savor each bite, but when you eat to fulfill emotional hunger you stuff the food in. All of a sudden the whole pint of ice cream is gone.

So how do we control emotional eating/overeating?

The first thing that you need to do is figure out whether you are actually hungry or not.Once you do this you will become conscious about the whole situation and there and then you have won half the battle.

If you think emotions are the trigger behind your craving then the best thing you can do is distract yourself. Go to sleep, take a walk, listen to music, pamper yourself with a pedicure or manicure at home, make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and read a good book or magazine, paint,clean your room/house…do anything that will keep you busy and keep your mind off your food.

Exercise…it helps to relieve stress and anxiety, discharges chemicals in your brain that make you feel cheerful, generates energy and makes you feel good about yourself Get in touch with your friends…tell them what you are feeling. Most of the time we feel the need to suppress that we are feeling by emotional eating because we think we don’t have anybody with whom we can share our feelings.
Personally, I have had my share of this problem. I was a big emotional eater for a while. Its a vicious circle, you eat to feel better and you obtain satisfaction for sometime however that satisfaction soon gets replaced by guilt and you are back to square one.
Now I know better and always try not to indulge in mindless snacking when I am feeling emotional.I don’t claim that I have always been successful with it but I have been able to curb it to some extent and I am sure if you are a little patient and just distract yourself for those first few minutes when you are feeling all overwhelmed, you can get past it too.