When you eat just to eat without being conscious of it, and if this becomes a habit, it can affect your weight, health and general wellbeing.
When people use food as a way to comfort or distract themselves from anxiety, stress, and nervousness instead of trying to satisfy their hunger, this can be a sign that something is not right. For example, finishing a bag of potato chips because you are bored or eating one cookie after another while studying for an important exam are both warning signs.
Understanding what triggers this behavior can help you take the steps you need to prevent it. First, it is important to be aware of what is happening. To do this, keep the following in mind:
Physical hunger appears gradually, and it can also be put off. Also, any type of food can satisfy it, it can be stopped, and it does not cause feelings of guilt. On the other hand, emotional hunger is detected when there is an urgent need to eat, portions are larger than normal and there are feelings of guilt. If this last description sounds familiar, the website KidsHealth lists three techniques to help control it.
Explore why you are eating and find an activity to replace it.
- If you’re bored or lonely, call or text a friend or family member.
- If you’re stressed out, try doing a yoga routine.
- If you’re tired, rethink your bedtime routine.
Write down the emotions that trigger your eating behaviors.
Keeping a diary of your mood and of the foods you eat can help you gather information about your eating habits. Writing down what you eat, how much, how you feel when you do it and if you were actually hungry can help you identify the patterns that develop between what you feel and what you eat.
Ask for help. Even though we may understand what is happening to us, we often need guidance to help break the cycle. It’s not easy, especially when this habit leads to weight and self-esteem issues.