Eating is a vital part of our daily life and living. It helps the body to get needed nutrients and energy and is also a form of social activity that brings families and strangers together during dinners or outdoor picnics. But eating can also cause serious harm to the individual if there's an underlying problem not addressed.
These problems aren't directly linked to the content of the food being consumed (for example, like food poisoning) per se but may be triggered or even aggravated by a combination of psychological factors that affect the eating pattern, and in turn, lead to more health problems.
These are broadly known as eating disorders. Many food disorders are affecting almost 28.8 million Americans. One of these disorders is emotional eating. It's a habit of responding to stressful situations or emotional distress by eating foods rich in carbs but have little or no nutritional benefit. When left untreated, it causes other health implications, for example, obesity, diabetes, and major cardiovascular diseases. Do you want to gain control of emotional eating? Find out more by going through FAQs on this guide.
What/who is an emotional eater?
An emotional eater isn't necessarily emotional about eating as opposed to the connotation. Instead, they eat to suppress some strong emotional feelings. These emotions may be triggered by many factors such as anxiety, intense stress, anger, melancholy, fear, loneliness, or boredom. Unfortunately, such a person might have grown so accustomed to these states of mind that they don't realize until it starts controlling their eating lifestyle in a way that simulates drug addiction. While a healthy eater responds to physical hunger, an emotional eater responds to an abstract hunger. Mostly, there's a strong urge to eat foods that are high in carbohydrates, with the instinct to get energized and feel good.
What causes emotional hunger?
There are several reasons. Emotional eating happens when you eat to satisfy an emotional need. And it's mostly resulted from underlying emotional, psychological, or even psychiatric issues. Each case of emotional eating has its specific cause even though they are all traceable to an inability or failure to address this issue by seeking a psychologist or mental health therapist. Emotional eating does the body no benefit, but the brain reward system helps the individual to continue with the habit.
Is emotional hunger the same as emotional eating?
Not really. Emotional eating isn't necessarily caused by emotional hunger but by a desire to control emotional turbulence. In other words, emotional eating isn't about trying to fill a void, but by trying to drain the body of intense emotional markers. Generally, emotional hunger is not associated with eating. Instead, it's a feeling of a strong emotional need that's often caused by a lack of emotional support in childhood. So they're not the same.
Why do we comfort eat?
Comfort eating is a broad sub-category of eating disorders under which emotional eating falls. Eating is stimulated by the body's need to derive energy for its function. But when we begin to eat outside of this need, it's most likely a social activity or worse a comfort eating; done to deal with anxiety, stress, and other emotional states.
Is binge eating the same as emotional eating?
While both share similar patterns, they're not nearly the same. Binge eating may or may not be intentional. On the other hand, emotional eating is most likely involuntary and addictive.
What are the four types of eating?
We have four main types of eating, and they are fuel, fun, fog, and storm eating. Fuel remains the most basic and most beneficial of the eating type. Others may be triggered by social necessity, then emotional need. When not adequately monitored, each can quickly progress to another one.
How do you diagnose emotional eating?
Most of the time, the emotional eating disorder is self-diagnosable. But you may not know that except you intentionally observe your eating pattern. The craving may not necessarily lead you to prepare a heavy meal; it could be as small as a candy bar, cereal, pasta, or even a can of soda.
Emotional eating is never good for the eater. It neglects the real emotional or psychological help that the person needs. Even worse still, because most of this food lacks the necessary nutritional value, it may cause other physical problems in the body. Explain why our treatment center is the best option to overcome this problem. At Awakenings Treatment Center, we understand your anxiety about this disorder and have all the resources to help you tackle both the mental and the physical elements behind emotional eating.