No more commute time AND skipping Spanx & pointy shoes. While Covid is not how we wanted to go about taking time off from those things, here we are. Our heels have been traded for gym shoes, Spanx for slippers and tennis shoes, and fast lunches for pantry snacks. This might feel like a really pleasant change; however, this shift will cause many people to re-evaluate how they structure their days to stay healthy.
Obviously, a big part of being healthy while stuck at home is diet (pattern of eating). It isn’t just what you eat, but how much, when, and WHY. Physical hunger does play into eating habits, but most of us eat because of emotional hunger. It’s normal, and our emotions are really high right now because of the pandemic. Basically, emotional hunger leads to eating because we are responding to our feelings rather than physical hunger.
The problem with emotional eating is that it leads to overeating, increased frequency, and/or craving specific junk foods or comfort foods. So, it’s normal, we all do it, and it is often triggered by stress, anxiety, depression, and boredom. It can also be a way to distract ourselves (or avoid) other emotions we don’t want to feel and can easily become a habit.
It can be tricky to identify if it is emotional eating or physical hunger. Here are 3 ways to tell if what you are feeling is emotional hunger:
It comes on REALLY FAST
The urge to snack or eat comes on really fast if it is emotional hunger. Physical hunger comes on gradually. If you suddenly find yourself craving food, check-in:
- When was the last time you ate?
- Was it one hour or several hours ago?
If you last ate a protein, fat, & fiber meal an hour ago and you are hungry, it might be emotionally driven.
Feeling full doesn’t last
Sadly, emotional hunger doesn’t leave you feeling full and satisfied for long. That’s because the food you eat really isn’t solving what you are really hungry for. If it is boredom, food gives you something to do, but only for a few minutes. If it is anxiety, you may feel calm while you eat, but then…regret for overeating. It does not ease and calm anxiousness. To really satisfy emotional hunger, it’s worth identifying the underlying negative emotions and then addressing them.
You won’t feel it in your stomach!
This is fascinating and probably the biggest tell between emotional and physical hunger.
Emotional hunger isn’t felt in the stomach. Physical hunger has a sign we all recognize, our stomach growls and there is a gnawing if we go too long without food. Did you know that we feel the rumbling and the sound we hear is actually audible because there is no food to buffer the sound? What you hear are the organ and muscular activity. Emotional hunger is coming from our thoughts, not our bodies.
Because emotional eating is triggered by thoughts and not our bodies (biology), it is easy to get trapped in an emotional eating cycle. Boredom can lead to larger quantities & increased frequency… which can create feelings of guilt. To minimize the guilt feelings, we might reach for a treat to soothe us (temporarily). This is where food and emotions feed the emotional eating cycle. It makes sense that since so many people are suddenly under chronic stress, it would be more difficult to mindfully change our behaviors since there seem to be so many more triggers.
Is emotional eating something you are struggling with? If yes, you are not alone. This is a big part of what I work on with clients. SOS will educate WHAT to do, and as you see success, we begin to tackle what gets in the way of consistency, which is one of the biggest problems is emotional eating. The good news is, when done right and with the right person, you can get back on track to eating for physical hunger MORE OFTEN than eating for emotional hunger.
Originally posted 2020-04-25 13:32:01.