The Causes Behind Emotional Eating
April 25, 2020

emotional eating psychology

Do you find yourself experiencing emotional eating? Are you wondering why this is the case? Below, we outline some of the main causes behind this common problem that so many people face. With a better understanding of the causes of emotional eating, you will find it easier to tackle it so you don’t have to feel so out of control anymore.

A Vicious Cycle

When you’re feeling frazzled or going through a tough time, emotional eating might take hold. Psychologically, you might seek out food as a form of comfort. Perhaps it’s because you use it as a way to stuff your emotions down, or perhaps you have carried habits from your childhood into adulthood.

According to HelpGuide, it all starts with something that upsets you mentally or emotionally. This results in your feeling the need to eat, and you can’t control it. Typically, once people have entered this stage, they end up eating more than they should, and they know it, but they can’t help themselves. Then, when you have eaten more than you should, you end up feeling other negative emotions, such as powerless or guilty. As a result, the cycle starts again because you feel upset, so you turn to food all over again.

The Physiological Causes Behind Emotional Eating

In addition to psychological causes, there are also physiological causes that make you want to eat when you are emotionally upset. For example, if you are too tired, or you are simply too hungry, you can make yourself more prone to eating emotionally and uncontrollably. Plus, if you are too hungry or too tired, you will be far less likely to be able to control any cravings that you end up feeling in moments of distress.

How to Combat This Problem

From a physiological standpoint, you can take steps to avoid emotional eating by making sure you are consuming small meals throughout the day. This will help keep your appetite in check, and you will be less prone to already being too hungry to control yourself if a difficult situation arises. Beyond that, it’s also important to get enough sleep so that your brain doesn’t end up sending signals that it’s time to eat even though it isn’t.

From a psychological standpoint, consider the following:

  • Figure out your triggers, and then take steps to avoid them.
  • You can gain more control by taking steps to reduce your stress level every day.
  • Exercise to stay in shape, and to feel better emotionally.
  • Develop a healthier relationship with food so you don’t view it as a crutch when in distress.

If you’re still having a lot of trouble, and you can’t get your emotional eating habits under control, consult with a physician who can help you figure out a method that will work.

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