Is Emotional Eating Causing You to Overeat?


Food represents so much more than just fuel for the body. From our earliest moments of life, emotional eating can play a big part. When you were a toddler and fell down or had to get a shot, you were offered a sweet treat to make it better. Little league victories and good report cards are always celebrated with pizza and ice cream. When shopping at the grocery store with children, who hasn’t opened a box of cookies or crackers to distract or calm a fussy one. We learn that food can be a source of connection, comfort, reward, or distraction.

Eating can be one of the most emotionally driven experiences in our lives. Failure to understand what is driving an urge to eat can sometimes result in overeating.

Next time you find yourself reaching for the chips or cookies, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Am I actually hungry?
  2. What am I feeling?
  3. What do I need?
There are many ways to cope with emotions that don’t involve food.

When you are in a calm state, brainstorm ways you can seek comfort, find rewards, distract from boredom, or reduce stress. If you are having difficulty creating the list a professional counselor can assist you in both identifying your emotions and finding ways to deal with them. Doing so will prepare you to resist giving into emotional eating.

Written By: Ann Sheerin, MA

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