Emotional Overeating Symptoms You Might Not Be Aware Of

emotional overeating

Could You Have an Eating Disorder?

Do you find yourself gaining weight during times of stress? Do you fear boredom because you know you’ll simply eat to fill the time? These are just some of the symptoms of overeating emotionally.

If you think you may suffer from this relatively common eating disorder, here are some signs and symptoms that may help you identify whether or not this is what you’re struggling with.

Mindless Eating

If you have a binge eating disorder or emotional overeating problem, you may stuff food in and not even really taste it or realize what you’re doing. It’s as though you are “out of it” and just mindlessly stuffing food into your mouth.

Feelings of Guilt and Shame

Many people with emotional overeating disorders feel really embarrassed and hateful of themselves after they’ve got through with an eating binge. The problem, of course, is that these negative feelings may make you reach for more food for comfort.

Eating in Secret

Because of being embarrassed, may emotional overeaters will eat in private, reserving their “naughty” foods for when no one is looking.

Always on My Mind…thinking of food

 Do you think about food all the time? Do you feel anxious about the prospect of leaving the house without snacks or money to buy food? Constantly thinking about food (food obsession) may be a sign that you have an emotional overeating disorder.

Feeling Sick

Sometimes, emotional overeaters will eat and eat to comfort themselves, and then feel sick afterward. Obviously, this is your body’s way of telling you you’ve eaten far too much more than is good for you; but for emotional overeaters, this sickness does not necessarily deter the next binge.

Identify Your Triggers

Emotional overeating is usually triggered by something – emotions, yes, but sometimes we need to be more specific than that. Identifying your personal triggers can go a long way toward helping you overcome the disorder. Basic trigger categories include:

  • Emotional – Eating to relieve boredom, stress, or anxiety
  • Psychological – You may eat in response to negative, self-destructive thoughts
  • Environmental/Situational – You may eat simply because the opportunity is there.

Also in this category is the habit of eating while doing another activity, such as reading or watching TV.

Do any of these signs and symptoms describe you? If so, don’t despair – there are treatment options available for emotional overeaters. Check with your healthcare provider for advice on therapists or specialists in your area.

What Are The Causes Of Overeating?

Emotional overeating disorders can be difficult and devastating for those who suffer from them. What makes this happen? Why is it that some people, knowingly or unknowingly, turn to food for comfort?

Here are some thoughts and ideas on those questions.

Emotional overeating disorder is a general term that refers to any of various eating habits where genuine hunger is not the motivational factor. It is more common among women than men, but men are not immune – especially young men in their teens and twenties.

Those who suffer from this disorder associate food with emotional comfort, and will turn to eating to escape negative feelings.

Past Trauma

For some with emotional overeating disorder, the problem stems from past traumatic events. Someone who suffered sexual abuse, for example, or some other kind of sexual trauma may overeat in response to feelings of anxiety and confusion.

The result is a fatter body, which some sources suggest may cause the sufferer to feel “protected” from being attractive to the opposite sex. Subconsciously or consciously, the sufferer wants to be unattractive. Other examples of past trauma or unmet needs may cause a person to turn to emotional overeating.

Poor Self-Image

People who suffer from low self-esteem and a negative self-image may seek escape by overeating. In a way, emotional overeating is a physical expression of what the sufferer feels inside, and the resulting weight projects the same image of self-disrespect.

Self-Medication

Like alcoholics, those who struggle with emotional overeating may be unconsciously using food as a drug. Eating numbs or dulls the emotions that might be too hard to deal with otherwise.

depressionDepression And Overeating

Studies indicate a strong correlation between depression and emotional overeating. Ironically, sometimes as depression grows worse a sufferer loses weight; weight loss means the sufferer is not eating as much, and therefore not engaging in his or her coping mechanism.

Overeating Due To Stress

Prolonged, unrelieved stress can have a profound effect on the body. Stress stimulates the body to produce, among other chemicals, the hormone cortisol. Cortisol apparently has a hunger-stimulating effect, and as the stressful emotions increase along with the cortisol, a cycle of emotional eating can play out.

Individual Triggers

There are triggers or causes of emotional overeating that are not necessarily in the categories above. Some examples might be:

  • Boredom
  • Oral need or a need to satisfy your mouth’s need to do something
  • Social pressure or embarrassment at eating in public, resulting in overeating in private
  • Financial stress
  • Relationship difficulties

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