Have you ever caught yourself mindlessly munching on something because it was there? Stress eating impacts more than 50% of the population, says one study. Another study indicates 75% of us have hunger triggered by emotions. This emotional hunger can vary from a few unnecessary handful of nuts to a 2-hour binge or chocolate, ice cream and chips.
Do you find that no matter how much food you try to treat your anger/sadness/frustration with that it never really fixes the problem? We may temporarily escape the negative emotional feeling, but it ill returns with a dose of guilt.
The first step to addressing emotional eating is being able to distinguish it from biological hunger says Susan Albers, PSY.D in her book 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food:
- the desire to eat comes on quickly
- you want something specific (ie chocolate)
- hunger increases with a certain feeling, like stress
- the hunger and craving is difficult to reason with
- eating is mindless – you don’t taste, it feels automatic
- it’s hard to feel satisfied
- you experience guilt
- Hunger grows gradually over time
- you want something filling and are open to a variety of foods
- you have physical cues like hunger pangs, grumpiness and a headache
- you stop eating when you are full
- there is not guilt
- you can wait to eat. It’s not urgent
The next step is identifying your feelings. The usual suspects that drive emotional eating are boredom, sadness, exhaustion, frustration, stress, anger and loneliness. What are you really feeling? Take a minute and ask yourself “Am I really hungry?” If not try some tea or a piece of gum and do something nice for yourself. Curl up with a book, take a hot bath or journal your feelings.
If you would like to learn more about this topic and some mindful eating tools, please join me and hypnosis facilitator Joyce Warren on May 30 for a workshop on mindful eating and hypnosis. More info here: www.strive-365.com/events