Tell-Tale Signs of Emotional Eating

Woman eating Apple or Muffin

Know how to tell if your hunger for comfort food is really emotional eating? Ask yourself these questions:

Are you eating mindlessly? You should never eat when you're not paying full attention to what you're eating. Eating at a table is best. Avoid eating in front of TV or computer. Mindlessly popping food in your mouth isn't feeding real hunger and it can lead to serious health problems, such as obesity.

Does your hunger seem to be based on emotions? If so, that really isn't hunger. That said, having food cravings when you're upset or angry is a normal response. You are likely trying to distract your attention away from your problems or the immediate circumstance. A lifestyle change may be needed if this is a recurring problem.

How long has it been since you last ate? If it is less than a few hours, it is unlikely that the driving force is really hunger. The body sends clear signals when it needs food, such as a grumbling stomach. That doesn't mean you should skip meals. If you eat healthy food at mealtimes and are always hungry, you may have a hormonal imbalance that may require taking supplements in addition to food.

Did you just eat but are hungry again? Anytime you feel obsessed with food right after eating a meal, or find yourself eating things that you don't even like, you are not really hungry. Scavenging for food at a time like this is emotionally based, so take a minute to determine what you're fretting over. It may just be boredom.

Thankfully you can break the habit of emotional eating but you have to make a conscious effort to identify cravings that are not based on physical hunger. Once you do, it is important to find other things to distract you attention, such as sipping on a cup of green tea or taking a brisk walk. It's not as much fun but it's a lot healthier and you'll feel much better about yourself.


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