Are You An Emotional Eater?

Comfort food.I’ve never been hugged by a bowl of mashed potatoes, and chances are neither have you. Yet we often refer to things like cake, pasta, or other starch-laden food items as “comfort foods.”

When I worked in healthcare many of us had become addicted to what we termed white flour Thorazine. We knew we were using simple sugars, fats and high glycemic index carbs for their sedative qualities. We worked in a highly-stressful environment and ate to alleviate that stress.

Foods that are high in fat, carbs, and/or sugar are highly addictive for a reason. They kick off a set of chemical reactions that lead to a boost in serotonin in your brain. Bottom line: they make you feel good. If only for a short time.

I’m embarrassed to say that at one point during the most stressful period of my life I had more than doubled my weight. I’ve since lost 50 pounds and kept it off, but the battle is far from over. I’m still 100 pounds over my normal healthy weight, and until I make the change in my own mind that this battle is a priority, it will continue to be a daily process of determining whether I am eating for hunger, stress, exhaustion, addiction, or a myriad other reasons.

Here are some questions to ask yourself if you think you’re eating for emotional reasons:

  • Do I eat because others are eating?
  • Do I eat when I’m not particularly hungry?
  • Do I get a sense of peace or soothing while I’m eating?
  • Do I feel bad about what I’ve eaten when I’m done?
  • Do I find myself regularly craving high carb or fatty foods?

If you find you’ve said yes to even one of these questions perhaps it’s time to start looking at what’s eating you as opposed to what you’re eating.