Emotional Eating is one of the most common reasons why people cannot lose weight or sustain healthy eating habits.
You may have been there yourself. You have been on your best behavior most of the day, eating your veggies, reducing your carbs, or maybe even counting calories, and then after dinner, you get tempted by that packet of chocolate cookies, and by the end of the evening, the packet is gone. You then might feel guilty, that you have “spoiled” your perfect day of healthy eating, and promised yourself to be more careful the following day or to burn it off at the gym. But the cycle carries on, creating a cycle of “restriction, compensation, and guilt” that you cannot really break off.
What is emotional eating
Emotional eating is defined by “eating when you are already full or past the point of fullness” and “eating to sooth or distract from your emotions like anxiety, anger, sadness or boredom. This is much more common than you think.
It creates a vicious cycle
If you are trying to lose weight emotional eating has the potential to really hinder your weight loss. It’s not only about the extra “calories” but also about messing up that hormonal balance that holds the key to fat storage. It confuses your sense of hunger and fullness. It does not give rest to your digestive system.
Most people can recover from the occasional splurge, but when it becomes the usual default coping mechanism this can create both physiological and emotional issues.
Munching on high palatable and high sugary food
The more sugar you eat and the more you crave for it.
We are too familiar with reaching that packet of cookies after a perfectly healthy meal or splashing out on full wine, pizza and ice cream to reward us after a long day at work. Nothing major if it is an occasional celebratory thing, but it that become our default coping mechanism, it can add pounds to our waist and create health issues in the long term.
But there are other behaviors and habits that can prevent you from losing weight and that are all part of what we generally define as Emotional Eating or Disordered Eating and can indicate a more dysfunctional or emotional relationship with food.
For example many people I coached and talked to tend to restrict food during the day, only then to binge or overeat at night. Often the food they have during the day is not nutritious enough, and cannot provide the full spectrum of nutrients they need to perform optimally, contributing then to tiredness, irritability, low energy, and food cravings, feeding into that cycle of restricting and overeating again.
Another pattern I often see is a focus on calories rather than nutrients, which can lead to unnecessary stress surrounding food choices, under-eating or again having a sub-optimal nutrient intake.
Stress around food does not need to be underestimated: not only it does not make us “feel good” but can contribute to digestive problems and a rise in cortisol and blood sugar levels, which in turn can prevent you from weight loss.
Having a meal should be a pleasurable and nourishing experience. If this is not the case for you and would like to explore a pattern that can guide you to more intuitive eating and transform eating into a nourishing pleasurable experience that can support your long-term health and well-being goals, get in touch.