What do you do when you’re feeling down, stressed, tired or just plain bored? Reach for chocolate or biscuits to make yourself feel better? If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. In fact, research suggests that 75% of our eating habits are led by our emotions. Often when we are at our weakest points emotionally we make our worst food choices. This isn’t a problem if it happens just occasionally but what happens when our emotions start to take over our eating habits? Are we simply feeding our feelings? It does us no harm to indulge in food cravings now and again, however, it can cause problems if we allow our emotions (e.g. stress, frustration etc.) to dictate our food choices on a regular basis to the point where it starts to affect our weight and health.
Emotional eating is eating as a way to suppress or soothe emotions (often negative), such as stress, anger, boredom, sadness and loneliness. However, emotional eating can also be linked to positive feelings too such as romance, reward and celebration.
Emotional eating can seriously sabotage your weight loss efforts because it’s a vicious cycle - your emotions trigger you to overeat, you beat yourself up for pigging out, you feel bad, and you overeat again. As therapists we see so many people trapped in this cycle which is why we believe that getting a handle on any tendency to eat in response to emotions is one of the most important factors in achieving long-term weight management.