Emotional Eating – Do you turn to it when you’re under stress?

Do you turn to emotional eating?Do You Turn to Emotional Eating?

The holidays can be times for great fun and enjoyment with family and friends, but for many, they can be challenging.  If there is anything wrong in your life, the holidays seem to put it under a magnifying glass; it can really get you down and can make you turn to emotional eating to feel better.

Also at holiday time, we have access to many foods that don’t serve our long term health but that really taste wonderful and are seductive treats.  If you tend to eat when you’re feeling down to help yourself feel better, you may be an emotional eater.

Emotional Eating is also known as Comfort Eating. It’s the act of responding to stressful situations by turning to food. Most people who turn to emotional eating tend to eat high-carbohydrate, high-calorie foods that have very little nutritional value.

Emotional Eating is not the same thing as binge eating because people who ‘Emotionally Eat’ don’t always eat large quantities of food like binge eaters do.  The key to emotional eating is that some form of stressful or emotional situation sets off a trigger which causes you to want to eat at that particular time.

If you fail to recognize and learn to control emotional eating, it can lead to obesity, poor self-esteem issues, guilt, shame, and in extreme cases food addiction.

If you suffer from this condition and experience a stressful situation, you’ll use food to attempt to mask or balance the negative emotions with which you’re struggling. Imagine the good feeling you get when you bite into something that you think is delicious.  It really seems to take over your entire brain. For just a few moments, all you feel is this wonderful feeling of goodness as you bite into those first few mouthfuls of food.

That feeling of goodness is a chemical reaction and is what a person who suffers from an emotional eating disorder is using to attempt to either overcome or completely ignore the stressful situation that’s presented itself.  If you’re using a sugary food or a food that is so highly processed that it rapidly turns to sugar to help you feel better, when you eat it, you really are experiencing a chemical reaction.  Sugar lights up the pleasure centers in your brain.  In fact, in laboratory studies, when given a choice between cocaine and sugar, rats go for sugar every single time!  Sugar is highly addictive!!

Rather than doing the hard work and dealing with the emotions or facing the challenging situation head-on, an emotional eater will quite simply turn to food to bring back some temporary feelings of goodness and satisfaction at that moment. This has the effect of never allowing you to really deal with and resolve the emotions because they are just covered over with a temporary fix and a temporary satisfaction.  At the same time, you’ll develop a reliance on food, because it becomes similar to a form of medication that you’ll want to use every time you’re faced with a stressful situation.

The important thing to do is to monitor your own eating habits.  Learn to recognize and notice if you go for the cookies or the doughnuts when something upsets you or stresses you out.  There is only good to come from seeking support from a health care professional, group or forum to gain understanding of whether you are indulging in emotional eating, why you are doing it, and how to overcome and change that behavior that does not serve your long term health.

Helping You Achieve Major Wellness in Your Life!

Cheryl A Major, CNWC

Certified Nutrition & Wellness Consultant

Cheryl A Major, CNWC


I’m Cheryl A Major, a Certified Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, online health and wellness blogger, television host, and motivational speaker on the topics of health and wellness. Let’s connect to see how I may best serve you in the near future to help you transform your health, both mental and physical, simply by changing how you eat!




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