Whether you’re feeling happy, sad, stressed or anxious, many of us may turn to food when we’re experiencing a certain emotion. In this post, adapted from Diet Lies and Weight Loss Truths, author Melody Schoenfeld talks us through how to break the habit.
What is emotional eating?
A basic definition of emotional eating is spontaneous, non-hunger-based eating that is triggered by some sort of emotion, such as stress, depression, boredom, panic, anxiety, social situations, and even joy and celebrations. Emotional eating is often compared to binge eating, but there is a difference between the two; that difference is essentially the quantity of the foods being eaten. While emotional eating might be something like tearing into a pint of ice cream after a breakup, binge eating is rapidly consuming huge amounts of food to the point where you are phenomenally overstuffed. A binge-eating session might include hiding food or making sure binging sessions happen when you are alone. While emotional eating and binge eating aren’t the same thing, they can be intertwined—emotional eating may lead to binge eating, or it may be part of an existing binge-eating disorder.