A big thank you to our guest contributor Dr. Jamie Long for her wisdom and insight in regards to emotional and intuitive eating. To read more from Dr. Long and to follow her on social media, please refer to the end of this post.
Imagine you’re sitting on the couch enjoying a cozy night at home when you see a commercial advertising scrumptious looking cookies. Suddenly you have a severe hankering for some chocolate chips. Where did that come from? Are you really hungry or just impacted by the power of suggestion and advertising? This all-too-familiar scenario has many of us questioning how to tell when we are truly hungry or dealing with an emotional craving.
Oftentimes food cravings caused by emotions are confused as physical hunger cues. Food is tangled with many emotions in our culture such as boredom, celebration, pleasure, reward, etc. Most people can relate to noshing on a little something when there’s nothing else to do and that’s okay. But if emotional eating is impacting your happiness or your health, it’s important to learn how to recognize the difference between emotional and physical hunger.
What is Emotional Eating?
The term emotional eating is often used interchangeably with compulsive overeating and food addiction. Regardless what you call it, emotional eating describes a behavioral pattern of ignoring physical cues of hunger and satiety and eating in response to an emotion. Emotional eaters may engage in frequent episodes of uncontrolled eating, or binge eating, during which he or she may feel out of control — often consuming food past the point of being comfortably full. Emotional eaters may also engage in grazing behavior (eating continuously throughout the day,) resulting in a high number of calories consumed even if the quantities eaten at any one time may be small.
How to tell the difference between emotional and physical hunger:
Tips to Combat Emotional Eating
Most people succumb to emotional eating from time-to-time, so don’t beat yourself up if this blog post describes your behaviors. However, if emotional eating has interfered with your quality of life in some way, it’s important to take steps to combat it.
What is Normal & Healthy Eating?
In short, normal eating is nourishing your body with nutrient-rich foods and enjoying treats free of guilt. Normal eating is honoring your hunger and your fullness. Normal eating is flexible (it’s okay to have cake!) and it is also responsible. Healthy eaters do not restrict or abuse food.
In counseling those who struggle with disordered eating patterns, several specialists ascribe to a non-diet nutrition philosophy called Intuitive Eating. I.E. is based on the belief that most people instinctually know how to eat. It emphasizes an adaptive relationship between food, mind, and body by making peace with food and normalizing eating patterns. Intuitive Eaters recognize and distinguish the difference between physical and emotional feelings and maintain a stable, healthy weight without depriving themselves or overindulging in food. Two dieticians — Evenly Tribole and Elyse Resch — coined the phrase Intuitive Eating in their 1995 book which is now in its third edition. Click here to learn more.
Copyright © Finding Cloud9, Dr. Jamie Long