Emotional eating can be defined as eating motivated by both positive and negative emotions. We eat when we are happy, sad, bored, angry, out of habit, and as a way to celebrate holidays and special occasions (or just because it’s Friday). According to author and clinical psychologist, Jennifer Taitz, examples of emotional eating may include eating without hunger, eating during a stressful time, sneaking food so others won’t notice, and feeling a sense of emotional release while and after eating. Those that have experienced the vicious cycle of dieting understand that the process of caloric restriction leads to a lapse in nutritional judgement leading to the feelings of shame, guilt, and despair that, inevitably, leads to emotional eating. So how does one stop the cycle and begin to eat to live (and not live to eat)?
1. Take a Snapshot
Before any steps are taken to reduce or eliminate emotional eating, it is helpful to understand what the current situation is first before we make plans to change. By keeping a record of when (and why) we eating during the day, we may see a pattern emerge.
For example, if we find we are munching on snack foods at work to alleviate the stress we are experiencing we are more able to create an action plan to avoid it. If we find we tend to snack more at night, in front of the TV, we can take the steps necessary to reduce it.