I remember my first semester in medical school, whenever I was stressed out, I ate the famous double fudge brownies or key lime pie from our cafeteria. I had no idea how frequently I was eating due to the stress, until the end of the semester when I was getting ready to go to an event and my favorite dress would not fit me! This was the first time I had gained weight in my life and I remember being extremely upset.
Next semester, I decided to handle my stress in a healthier way by working out in the gym or jogging around the campus instead of eating brownies or key lime pie.
Are you an emotional eater?
You might ask, how would I know if I am an emotional eater?
- Does your hunger come on all of a sudden?
- Do you crave only specific types of “comfort” foods? (eg. ice cream, pizza, french fries, etc)
- Does your hunger feel urgent and would you go out of your way to satisfy the hunger?
- Is your hunger related to an upsetting emotion such as stress, sadness, anger, loneliness, resentment, boredom, anxiety, etc.?
- Do you eat when you’re not hungry or even when you are full?
- Are you mindful of what you are eating or do you find yourself all of a sudden finishing a whole pint of ice cream?
- Do you reward yourself with food?
- Does food make you feel safe? Do you feel food is a friend?
- Do you feel powerless or out of control around food?
- After you satisfy your hunger, do you feel a sense of regret or guilt?
Why do we choose food to comfort us from uncomfortable feelings such as sadness, loneliness, anger, boredom, etc?
- Well, for one, it is very accessible (ordering in, fast foods, vending machines) and we can eat from the comfort of our own home.
- Stress increases the level of a hormone called cortisol in our body which increases the craving for foods high in carbs, fat and sugar (aka “comfort foods”)
- Food allows you to tune out or stuff your feelings so you don’t have to deal with uncomfortable feelings.
What can you do about your emotional eating?
- If you think you may be emotional eater, we can help. I am offering a 15-minute complimentary consultation from now until 4/15.