When comfort food
Do you associate food with love and safety?
Most people do. You may have been given a lollipop or a cookie to make you feel better when you skinned your knee as a child. Your childhood meals were likely shared with family in a loving and accepting environment. Chips mean party fun. Sweets are special dopamine-producing treats.
But when the act of eating comfort food becomes your only emotional “safe place”, you could be avoiding the realities of life in an unhealthy way.
What’s wrong with a bowl of ice cream?
There’s nothing wrong with comfort foods per se. You deserve a reward once in a while. But eating in response to stress – instead of dealing directly with an issue – is simply kicking the emotional can down the road.
The numbing effect of eating never eliminates the stress or the problem you’re facing. And until you choose to deal with it, you’re more likely to turn to food every time it rears its ugly head. In fact, eating emotionally can easily become a habit because you do it every time you foresee confronting that problem.
Left untreated, emotional eating can become a serious health issue, both physically and psychologically.
But you’re already ahead of the game: You’re already facing this condition by acknowledging its existence and seeking help.
Are YOU an emotional eater?
Do any of the following describe you?
- You turn to food when you feel angry, nervous, bored, sad, or otherwise emotional.
- You eat when you are not physically hungry.
- You feel as if you “crave” something, but can’t seem to find the food that satisfies you.
- You don’t stop eating when you feel full.
- You eat foods that you don’t normally enjoy.
- Your mind seems to go “numb” when you’re eating.
What exactly is emotional eating?
Emotional eating is consuming food as a method of dealing with stress or uncomfortable feelings. Emotional eaters avoid anxiety, worries, conflicts, uneasy thoughts or situations by eating foods they associate with comfort to divert their attention away from the stressor. These foods are often higher in carbohydrates and fat and lower in nutritional content.
While emotional eating does not necessarily involve large quantities of food, as in binge eating, the two conditions can be related.
Who are emotional eaters?
Emotional eaters are millions of otherwise physically and psychologically healthy people of all ages, races, and cultures, coming from every socioeconomic status across the U.S. and Canada.
Consciously or subconsciously, emotional eaters see food as an emotional security blanket. Emotional eaters turn to food as a way to self-soothe, and to suppress, avoid, or distract from emotions like fear, anger, boredom, or loneliness. They often feel guilty about food or their weight.
If left untreated, emotional eating can lead to one or more physical conditions, including
- Weight gain and obesity
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Type II Diabetes
- Heart disease
Emotional eating can be successfully treated
If your view of food has moved from “occasional comfort” to “the safest place on earth”, you’re not alone.
The symptoms and consequences of emotional eating vary from individual to individual. Accurate identification and successful treatment of emotional eating depends on your own honest self assessment combined with professional support from a qualified eating disorder specialist.