Food can be like a “trusted friend” or “comforter”. We turn to food to counteract a feeling we may have inside. After eating the food, we feel good (until the guilt sets in).
1) Eating to hide or to cope with feelings like anger or anxiety.
Some people have been brought up not to express anger. This may manifest itself in eating to bring suppressed feelings to the surface.
On a subconscious level, some people may be eating to express guilt.
2) Eating to feed a hungry heart
Women, especially mothers may have many unmet needs so they compensate by eating. In these cases, women are conditioned out of having permission to “want” since they are often expected to “defer” their needs to the needs of people they are caring for. When their “work” is done for the day, they often turn to food to feed that need.
3) Eating when stressed
Stress is highly correlated to over eating. The first things we learn as babies is that sucking makes us feel better (when babies are humgry they are very stressed). For some people, eating gets them into a relaxed state. Stressful times include when you are worried, frustrated, angry, tired, depressed, anxious, sad, under pressure, feeling like not coping or feeling emotionally down.
When trying to lose weight, comfort eating is not an ideal way of dealing with stress.
4) Eating for self abuse
Low self worth can make people want to punish themselves by eating. Sometimes a fear of success can be the result of not feeling worthy. Eating as a result of self abuse may be triggered as the result of an event that may have happened during the day or something that somebody might have said that was negative that makes allows the low self worth feelings to resurface again. Often people feel the need to punish their bodies by over-eating or to self sabotage. In some cases people may do this subconsciously as they do not believe that they deserve to be happy or they are afraid of all the things they may achieve if they actually met all their goals.
5) Post trauma eating
Overeating can follow a time of longstanding stress in which a person feels powerless or humiliated in some way. When you have a bad experience, your mind locks it in and this continues to affect you. Some of the biggest stressors can be bad life events such as the death of a loved one, a relationship breakup, a bad sexual encounter, rejection, being ostracised at school and being abused by someone close to you.
This lesson’s quiz will now test if you recognise some examples of emotional eating in your life.