Emotional Eating – Are You at Risk?

We all have those moments when we eat even though we’re not hungry. Hell, I had that episode yesterday. It can be caused by a variety of emotions, including sadness, anxiety, or boredom. Apparently, this is known as emotional eating, and according to experts, it can put a person at risk for eating disorders.

Dr. Ioannis Delipalas, Consultant Psychiatrist

Thrive Wellbeing Center Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Ioannis Delipalas entered A beautiful lifestyle onlinewhere she shared her two cents on emotional eating and whether you might be at risk.

According to the good doctor, food gives us a sense of comfort when we’re down. “Most of us don’t realize how much our emotions can influence our eating habits, even though emotional eating is becoming an increasingly common problem.”

In addition, food can temporarily help to calm or distract us. and emotional eating can become a conditioned response to stress or strong emotions. While we all enjoy the occasional treat, emotional eating can lead to deeper problems if left unrecognized.

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What is emotional eating?

Emotional eating or stress eating is characterized by the tendency or desire to eat large amounts (often comfort food) to manage stress or other negative emotions such as fear, guilt, sadness, loneliness, or boredom. A person’s physical hunger appears gradually and can wait to be satisfied. In contrast, an individual’s emotional hunger comes on suddenly and requires instant gratification, often with foods high in fat, sugar, and carbohydrates.

Scientists have found that people can gain and lose weight when stressed. 40% of those under stress consumed more calories, 20% consumed fewer calories, and 20% consumed no calories. Emotional eating is thought to be associated with binge eating disorder, the most common eating disorder.

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Symptoms of binge eating disorder may include:

  • Repeated episodes of binge eating. Both of the following characterize a binge eating episode:
    • Eat, in a discrete period (for example, in any two hours), an amount of food that is undoubtedly greater than most people would eat in the same period of time under similar circumstances.
    • Feeling out of control over eating during an episode (for example, feeling that the person cannot stop eating or control what or how much they eat)
  • Binge eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:
    • Eating faster than usual
    • Eat until you feel uncomfortably full
    • Eating large amounts of food when you are not physically hungry
    • Eating alone because of being ashamed of how much one eats
    • Feeling nauseous, depressed or very guilty afterwards
  • There is considerable anxiety associated with overeating
  • Binge eating occurs on average at least once a week for three months
  • Binge eating was not associated with repeated use of inappropriate compensatory behaviors (such as cleaning) and does not occur exclusively in anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or avoidant/restrictive eating disorder

Are you at risk?

Although emotional eating is not considered an eating disorder, it can be a sign that a person is at risk. When a person who occasionally overeats as a way to cope with negative emotions begins to compulsively overeat, an eating disorder may be diagnosed. Binge eating disorder differs from bulimia nervosa in that the person with the binge eats no purging, whereas a bulimic purges after eating.

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Treatment for emotional eating

Consequences of binge eating disorders include obesity, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type II diabetes, and hypertension. The following treatment options are important to consider in managing binge eating disorders:

  1. Psychiatric assessment, medical consultation and complete blood work to identify and address underlying mental health issues
  2. Treatment by an ED therapist who is properly trained
  3. Nutrition education and monitoring of eating habits, such as emotional eating, provided by a dietitian or nutritionist experienced in the management of eating disorders

about the writer

Esther Lackey

Enthusiast of aesthetics, lover of running; during the day, a marketing and PR specialist, an amateur chef and a wine tasting behind closed doors.

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