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Stop Eating Your Feelings!
Get acquainted with the causes and solutions of emotional eating.
Causes of "emotional hunger"
• Feelings of internal void or boredom: Have you ever felt the need to consume food as a pastime or to relieve your boredom? Perhaps you feel a void and food becomes a way to fill both time and your stomach? At the moment, food distracts you from identifying the lack of objective feelings, the meaning and the fulfillment of your life.
• Stress: Have you noticed that stress can trigger feelings of hunger? When stress is chronic, especially in our chaotic daily lives, it raises the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which causes cravings for sweet, salty or high fat foods. The more uncontrollable the stress is in your life, the more likely it will be for you to turn to such foods for emotional relief.
• Social influences: When you go out with other people for dinner, it is a great way to relieve stress through socializing and hanging out, however it may lead to overeating. It's easy to overindulge when food is in front of you and everyone else is eating as well. On the other hand, you may also end up consuming more food at social functions because of nervousness. Moreover, family, friends, and your partner may encourage you to eat more thus making it easier to follow their encouragement as opposed to refraining.
• Childhood habits: Try to think of your childhood memories in relation to food. Did your parents reward your good behavior with some ice cream? Did they offer pizza for good grades or offer you a sweet when you felt upset? These emotional-eating habits from childhood are usually carried into adulthood. Sometimes eating habits are triggered from nostalgia, e.g. the meat you grilled with your dad or the fresh warm cookies that remind you of your mom.
Small alternative solutions
In order to manage to stop the emotional consumption of food, you will need to find new ways to fulfill yourself on an emotional level. It is not enough simply to understand the feelings that push you to overindulge in the first place - although this is a great first step. If you feel bored, read a good book or turn to an activity you enjoy. If you feel exhausted, pamper yourself with a hot drink or a warm bath. Choosing people who respect you and make you feel better is of equal importance. When you manage your emotions through healthier means, you will be able to set better eating habits.