Does this mean that you are absolutely out
of control with your emotions, and you have a real eating problem? On the other
hand, this could be normal behavior that is not a real problem, if you don’t do
it most of the time. The bottom line is this … you want to know how you can
determine if you have a full-blown emotional eating problem or not.
Symptoms of Emotional Eating
Here are a few of the more common signs and
symptoms of an emotional eating issue that is out of control.
You have a hunger that attacks suddenly. Real
hunger builds up slowly. Emotional eating, also called stress eating, hits you
out of nowhere. This is one way for you to recognize emotional as opposed to
physical hunger. The urge to eat is sudden and sometimes overwhelming, and this
is not how the normal, physiological hunger process works.
You eat mindlessly. You eat just to be
eating, while you are watching TV or talking on the phone, and before you know
it, all you have around you are several empty fast food wrappers.
You never feel full. When you eat in
response to physical hunger, you get full eventually. Sometimes emotional
hunger continues to attack long after you have eaten enough food to answer a
physical hunger attack.
Emotional hunger is hallmarked by specific
comfort foods. If you went without eating for two or three days, even the most
hated vegetables would be consumed rapidly. Normal hunger means eating just
about anything to satiate your hunger signal. If your eating is emotion-based,
you want nothing but a pizza, a cheeseburger, ice cream or some other specific
unhealthy, comfort food.
Your hunger signals don’t come from your
stomach. We have all had a growling in our stomach telling us to eat. Emotional
hunger often is a mental craving, instead of a signal from your gut.
If eating causes guilt, regret, shame and
self-hatred, you are likely eating in response to some emotion. When your body
sends out a signal to your brain to tell you to eat for nutrition-based
reasons, you don’t usually suffer from negative emotions after eating.
You notice that you eat more when you are
in a particular situation or environment. Often times, emotional eaters develop
stress-related patterns of poor eating behaviors. You overeat unhealthy comfort
foods any time you are around a specific coworker, in your car heading to and
from work, when you are studying for a test, or in some other stressful
situation on a regular and repetitive basis.