Many of us eat for enjoyment, there’s even an entire culinary industry dedicated as a source of entertainment and comfort. Everyone eases their pain with food at some point or uses food to combat boredom or as a reward.
How is the regular enjoyment of food different from what defines emotional eating? There are a few, important things that make emotional eating different.
When emotional eating is an eating disorder, the following symptoms happen regularly:
- Food becomes a stress reliever
- Reward oneself with food
- Avoid unpleasant emotions or unpleasant activities by consuming food
- Compulsive eating past the point of fullness
- Eating regardless of hunger
- No sense of control when eating
- Eating or binging secretly
- Increased guilt and shame associated with food and weight
- Feeling unhappy with your body weight
- Swings between diets and binging
- Avoid life activities because of your weight
This can greatly interfere with a person’s health and quality of life. The difficult aspect of the symptoms is the shame leading to the need of engaging in unhealthy diets. At some point the diet breaks due to a change in routine or stress resulting in a period of binging. The unfortunate thing is that the person’s weight usually increases fast after the extreme dieting, and the person may end up more overweight than before. A new diet begins, and the cycle continues.
Constant shame and dissatisfaction with body weight takes its toll and life can feel overwhelming. Emotional eating therapy can help bring back balance and health.
Binge eating disorder or emotional eating disorder therapy often consists of exploring the deeper roots of the disorder, which can often be linked to other disorders like PTSD, depression, trauma, and anxiety.
The right therapist is someone able to help treat the underlying cause as eating disorders are never about food. Emotional eating is about avoiding uncomfortable feelings and having a therapist work with you on understanding and moving through this is critical to your health.
Nutritionist or a Naturopath
Working with a nutritionist can sometimes help people address any issues that may be rooted in body chemistry, hormones, stress, and irregular eating patterns.
Healing body chemistry can be a great support in getting both cravings and unhealthy foods and diets out of the system.
Support groups can be a great help when recovering from emotional eating. Knowing there are others that share your feelings can lift shame, and the sharing and experiencing of feelings can work to decreasing the compulsion of avoiding emotions.
Emotional eating may require a multifaceted approach when it comes to treatment because it is a multilayered type of eating disorder, but help is out there.