Let me start by saying that emotional eating is something we have been conditioned to do from the time we were born when milk, our earliest food, provided us with comfort and security. As we weaned off of that, our first birthday cakes symbolised togetherness and celebration, and as we continued to grow, food was given as a reward when we behaved or achieved, but also to distract us and soothe us when we cried, were sad or got hurt. So food associations are unsurprisingly deeply engrained within most of us and on the whole, there is nothing wrong with that.
It is perfectly ok to SOMETIMES use food to comfort or to relieve tension, When we do this, we tend to reach for junk food, sweets, and other comforting but unhealthy foods. You might reach for a tub of ice cream when you’re feeling down, order a pizza if you’re bored or lonely, or swing by the drive-through after a stressful day at work. This type of eating only becomes an issue when you use food more than 'occasionally' to meet your needs and to make yourself feel better. In other words, when eating becomes your MAIN coping mechanism for dealing with life.
Unfortunately, emotional eating doesn’t fix emotional problems. In fact, it usually makes you feel worse. Afterward, not only does the original emotional issue remain where the real feeling or problem is never addressed, but you also feel guilty for overeating.
When your first impulse is to open the refrigerator whenever you’re stressed, upset, angry, lonely, exhausted, or bored—you get stuck in an unhealthy cycle.
Emotional hunger just cannot be filled with food. Eating may feel good in the moment, but the feelings that triggered the eating are still there. And you often feel worse than you did before because of the unnecessary calories you’ve just consumed. You beat yourself for messing up and not having more willpower.
Compounding the problem, you stop learning healthier ways to deal with your emotions, you have a harder and harder time controlling your weight, and you feel increasingly powerless over both food and your feelings. But no matter how powerless you feel over food and your feelings, it is possible to make a positive change. You can learn healthier ways to deal with your emotions, avoid triggers, conquer cravings, and finally put a stop to emotional eating.