Hypnotherapy for Weight Loss
Do you find yourself eating when you are stressed?
Do you ever get bored and decide it’s time to eat?
Does your nighttime snacking have a mind of its own?
This could be a case of emotional eating.
What is emotional eating?
It is eating to feed your emotions vs. your body. It is sometimes known as stress eating because many emotional eaters eat in response to stress (though stress is not the only trigger – happiness, sadness, among other emotions can be triggers too).
Emotional eating is the result of an unhealthy relationship with food. Instead of seeing food as what it is, something you consume for survival (like air and water), you misconstrue it into something else. You become attached to it, give it emotions, personify it, and make it out to be something it isn’t. Sometimes food is love. Sometimes food is a pain killer. Sometimes food is entertainment. Sometimes food fills the loneliness.
Binge eating is an aggravated form of emotional eating. It happens when (1) the original emotional eating issue is not addressed (2) the triggers for emotional eating are activated, leading to an increased need to eat to feed the emotion(s).
Given time, an emotional eater switches from merely eating in response to emotions, to massively overeating in response to emotions, since they are unable to get relief from their original consumption. While not always the case, compulsive overeating often comes with poor body image and low self-esteem.
Emotional eating is more prevalent than you might think. Believe it or not, nearly 2.5 million adults in the United States today suffer from compulsive overeating, with probably many more unreported cases. Because of how our society has wrapped itself around food, almost all of us have a skewed relationship with food, whether we acknowledge it or not.
12 Signs of Emotional Eating
There are many kinds of emotional eaters – some eat in response to a negative emotion, while some eat in response to a positive emotion. Below are 12 signs of emotional eating:
- You eat when you are stressed. When you have things to do (work/studies/exams), you reach out for food subconsciously. Especially when you’re up late at night and by yourself, though it can happen in the day and in front of others too.
- You eat as a response to your emotions. You eat when you feel sad / annoyed / disappointed / angry / lonely/ empty / anxious/ tired / bored. It’s a reaction so subconsciously embedded that you don’t even think about it. You just automatically reach out for food whenever you experience those emotions.
- You seek solace in food. When you feel down, you seek out “comfort food”. You bury yourself in food like ice cream, cake, chocolate, and cookies, even though they are absolute junk and have zero nutritional value. For some reason, you can’t quite explain, they provide you with comfort.
- You have trouble losing weight (due to the way you eat). Even though you want to lose weight and you know the technicalities behind losing weight such as the foods and quantities you should eat, you have trouble sticking to your diet. You can’t seem to stop yourself from eating as and when you want to.
- Your eating is out of control (You can’t stop eating). You eat even when you are not hungry, and you continue to eat even when you should have stopped long ago. Your desire to eat seems to have taken a life of its own. At times you would even go out of the way just to get food or to satisfy a particular craving, even though you may not be hungry at all.
- You eat to feel happy. You are emotionally dependent on food, relying on it for happiness. You derive positive emotions from eating, even though it’s nothing more than a neutral activity to help you live, just like breathing, drinking water, and passing waste. Note this is entirely different from appreciating food as you eat it, which I’m all for. This is about eating specifically to derive the feeling of happiness, which creates a lopsided relationship.
- You eat when you feel happy. You see eating is a necessary companion to happy emotions, just like how people eat to celebrate good news.
- You are fascinated with eating/food. You love food. You love to eat. When you’re not eating, you can’t help but think about food. You long and crave for it. When you’re eating, it’s like you’re in a wonderland. Eating and food draw an intense level of interest from you. Interestingly, none of your fascinations is reciprocated by food or eating.
- You use emotionally-charged words to describe food/eating, like “sinful”, “decadent”, “guilt-ridden”, “love”, “lust”, “indulgent”, “enticing”, “craving”, “tempting”, etc, even though food is a non-living thing, incapable of feelings nor returning your love/hate.
- You eat even though you are rightfully full. No matter how much you eat, no matter how full you feel, you never feel quite satisfied. Whatever satisfaction you get from eating is momentary, and you return to eating after a while to recapture that emotion.
- You think of eating even though you are rightfully full. Even after you’ve had your fill, you continue to think of food. You think about what to eat for the next meal right after you’ve finished eating. You obsess about X, Y, Z food, and when you can eat it. You can’t wait till it’s time to eat again. You think about how satisfied you’ll be when you finally get to eat. You count down to the next mealtime.
- You have random food cravings out of the blue. Sometimes, you get urges to eat a certain food, which you can’t explain yourself. And it’s not even that you’re hungry. It’s just a craving which you must satisfy, else you’ll feel unhappy for the day.
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