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Eating can not only be associated with quenching hunger. We know that eating is also seen as a source of self-reward. Emotional eating habits lead people to unhealthy ways like junk food. The result of boredom may appear as a pizza with hundreds of calories.
Seeing food as a reward or a way to celebrate isn't always a bad thing. However, if the first thing you do when you are stressed is to head to the refrigerator, you may have to face the fact that there may be a problem and you may be trapped in an unhealthy cycle. You should find ways for building a healthy food relationship.
In this essay we will talk about how to understand emotional eating, unveiling the connection between food and emotions. We will also talk about building awareness, recognizing emotional hunger versus physical hunger. In the second part, you can read about strategies to overcome emotional eating, mindful eating, therapy, and counseling for emotional eating recovery.
Understanding Emotional Eating: Unveiling the Connection to Food and Emotions
Emotional eating is not considered an eating disorder. It can be a sign of disordered eating that can lead to the development of an eating disorder.
Many people have irregular eating habits, but this doesn't necessarily mean you have an eating disorder. Some of the conditions that might be an eating disorder can be lined up as below:
- Being too strict with food choices
- Categorizing food as “good” or “bad”
- Frequent dietary restrictions
- Eating in response to emotions
- Big differences between meal times
- Feelings of guilt after eating foods deemed "unhealthy"
By practicing self-care and seeking support when needed, it is perfectly possible to deal with emotional eating and have a healthy relationship with food.
Building Awareness: Recognizing Emotional Hunger versus Physical Hunger
We eat when we are stressed. We also eat when we are happy. Isn’t it a bit strange that two opposite situations can result in eating? Most of the time we eat out of pure boredom. How will we recognize physical hunger and emotional hunger? We eat because our body needs energy or we just feel hungry, without a reason.
Physical hunger is gradual and varies in severity depending on when you last ate. Emotional hunger is triggered by stress, anxiety, and fatigue. It is important to listen to yourself, are you really hungry, what was the time you had a meal, what’s the time now? Has it been enough time to feel for someone hungry or do you just feel bad and want to eat something delicious to feel better? When you start to answer these questions, you will understand the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger.
Strategies to Overcome Emotional Eating
Understanding and managing emotional eating is crucial to maintaining a healthy relationship with food. You can control your eating habits by providing a supportive environment for yourself or you can ask for professional help. They will help you with stress management as well as tell you how to rid of negative emotions in the therapy sections.
Here are some practical strategies to help you overcome emotional eating:
- Get down to the root cause: Review the underlying issues that cause emotional eating, such as chronic stress and depression. Seek professional help if needed.
- Choose stress-fighting foods: When making your diet list, be sure to include stress-reducing foods like green tea, black cherries, omega-3-rich fish, dark chocolate, and fruit.
- Ask yourself: Ask yourself why are you eating. Self-awareness is a key to recovery.
- Rate your hunger and choose a balanced food or alternative activity based on your hunger level.
You can overcome emotional eating by applying these strategies and seeking professional help if needed. Seeing that you can establish a healthier relationship with food will make you psychologically stronger.
Mindful Eating: Cultivating a Nourishing Relationship with Food
Mindful eating involves focusing on the taste, texture, and how it makes you feel about your food. Thanks to this practice, physical and emotional hunger is distinguished. Mindful eating supports weight loss by reducing disordered eating behaviors. You chew each bite slowly, savoring it. By adjusting your body's hunger and satiety signals, you develop a healthier relationship with food. A balanced nutrition and a balanced diet are also important issues.
The foundations of mindful eating include maintaining a calm dining environment, assessing your satisfaction during meals, and focusing on sensory experiences.
By incorporating this practice into your routine, you can develop a more balanced and mindful approach to eating, improving both your physical and psychological health. You should improve your psychological well-being. In that way, you can improve your psychological well-being as well.
Seeking Professional Help: Therapy and Counseling for Emotional Eating Recovery
Finding the right eating disorder psychologist may not be easy. But finding the right specialist is one of the most important steps to take in solving your eating disorder problems. If you're struggling with an eating disorder, be sure to find a health center that specializes in effective support.
The psychologist team of this health center should have effective experience in the field of eating disorders and should have certificates showing that they are experts in their fields.
Although the problems of individuals are united under the umbrella of eating disorders, the situation of each individual is quite different from the others. Keep in mind that professionals who will guide you through resolving emotional eating issues will consider this point.
In addition, make sure that the health center where you will receive support offers both face-to-face and remote treatment options. You can even tell them that you might prefer remote support some days. Thus, they can position according to your needs and offer different forms of support.
If you like to know about emotional eating treatments at Ekol International Hospitals’ psychiatry clinic, please do not hesitate to contact our friendly patient support team.