Emotional Eating Self-Assessment and Overeating
Emotional Eating Self-Assessment
Ask yourself these questions, in regards to the last time you ate more than necessary:
• Was I experiencing an unfavorable experience or mood?
• Did I eat because I was sad, angry or anxious?
• Did I feel the need to reward a good mood or experience with food?
• Did my hunger manifest quickly or does it suddenly grow?
• Was the need to eat coming from my stomach or did I feel desperation to eat for comfort?
• When I felt hungry quickly, did I crave certain foods (such as chips, chocolate, etc.)?
• Was I paying attention to what (nutritious food vs. junk food) or how much I was eating?
• Even after I ate to capacity, did I still feel as though I wanted more?
• Did my eating lead to feelings of guilt?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you could be emotionally eating to satisfy your emotional hunger. The concern of emotional eating and overeating is that they will likely lead to obesity. Emotional eating tends to present itself quickly and dramatically, while physical hunger gradually increases. To assess whether you are actually hungry, pay close attention to physical symptoms (Is your stomach growling? Do you feel hunger pangs? Do you feel faint?). If you do not feel physically symptoms of hunger, then you are not truly hungry and there may be something else to blame, whether it is situational or emotional. One of the major differences between physical and emotional hunger involves mindfulness. When eating to satisfy actual hunger, an individual makes a careful choice and uses awareness to select food. While emotionally eating, an individual is rarely unaware of what or how much is being eaten.
Here are some causes of overeating:
• Poor meal planning
• Eating while engaging in other activities (social gatherings, meetings, sports events, watching television, etc.)
• Poor portion control
• Eating on-the-go often or skipping meals
• Childhood habits (taught to always clean your plate, being rewarded or uplifted with food, etc.)
• Frequent dining out
• Limited cooking ability
• Eating too quickly and not chewing thoroughly
• Difficulty saying “no” to food
You should consider using your daily journal to catalog emotions so that you can learn to identify your triggers. Some common triggers to emotional eating are stress, anxiety, sadness, keeping your uncomfortable emotions to yourself, and feelings of emptiness or loneliness. By tracking these occurrences, you will be able to develop more mindful eating practices. Developing mindful eating habits will propel you into a healthier lifestyle. Some examples of mindful eating habits include:
• When a craving arises, take a moment to assess your physical hunger and, if you are actually hungry, select for a healthy snack (while on the hCG diet, look to your “free foods” – plan for these items while you are shopping for grocery items
• When emotions do affect your eating habits, look for alternative distractions – remember, emotionally eating is a distraction
• Eat before becoming ravenous
• Pay attention to your food when you truly are physically hungry – use the food for fuel, not as a coping mechanism