Regardless of how hard it might be to admit, emotional eating does exist and it is present in all of our lives, at least at some points. Basically, we are all prone to chewing on something when we are bored, or eating something sweet while studying or working. However, once we go overboard with the “stimulation” of this type, the effect is seen through our excessive body weight.
Some people are more prone to emotional eating than others, channeling their emotions through satisfying their hunger. This, of course is not a good step to take and may result in various health problems connected with the rapid weight gain.
Emotional Eating Patterns
Even though people find comfort in eating in some situations, eating itself is not a cure for negative feelings. Rather, emotional eating can also be related to positive situations. So, for example, you might not be prone to eating a lot once you are sad, depressed, tired or plain unhappy. Additionally, food might be your companion during romantic dates or holiday feasts. Either way, eating a lot can be connected to emotions, regardless of their type.
Commonly, people start eating more once their go through traumatic experiences such as divorces, death of a loved person and similar. Moreover, the connection between comfort and food might stem from one's childhood and upbringing, if he/she was given candy as a reward.
Therefore, there are specific patterns which are related to one's emotional eating. In order to get rid of these, a person needs to try hard and break the vicious circle of food and emotions. However, before this can happen, the affected individual needs to admit that he/she has a problem, becoming aware of the issue.
A layman may believe that there is a fixed list of comfort foods, mutual to all people prone to emotional eating. Yet, this is not so, since the types of food involved in the process may vary depending on the sex, mood and many other factors. In fact, scientific researchers have revealed that happy people are more prone to eating pizza and other food of this type, while those who are feeling down and sad like cookies or ice cream better. Following the same pattern, those who are bored opt for salty and crunchy food.
As for the gender-based differences regarding comfort foods, men enjoy home-made meals which are hot, using these as the cure for their emotional issues, while women mostly find comfort in ice cream and chocolate.
Thus, basically, high-fat food is more likely to make you happy than any other types of food. For this reason, people do not chew on celery or carrots when they are going through the worst days of their lives.
Also, we can freely state that all of us are prone to emotional eating, some more than others. However, as long as this state of affairs does not present a health problem, you can manage to live with it. Emotional eaters usually find it hard to satisfy their emotional needs through food and experience a relapse of the previous state as soon as they stop eating. Also, the very fact that they have just eaten too much may lead to a whole new level of despair and depression, making matters worse.
So, be careful about your connections between food and emotional stability. If you start craving for some food for comfort, bear in mind that low-fat snacks are a much better alternative.
How Can You Help Your Child
Since teenagers and other children often go through incredibly intense emotional development during the process of growing up, they might be susceptible to emotional eating.
If your child seems to share these problems, there are several things you can do to help. First of all, do not be a bad teacher, motivating your child towards learning that food is a reward for accomplishments. Use verbal appraisal, stickers or other gifts which are not edible. Also, teaching your child to be emotionally open with you will allow you to help him/her whenever problems reach the surface. This way, your emotionally overwhelmed youngster will ask for your help and support rather than seeking refuge in binge eating.
Sometimes, all the support you give may not be enough. In such situations, it is best to seek help elsewhere, through professional assistance. Therefore, do not be afraid or ashamed to seek medical opinion on the situation your child is going through, especially if you notice that the matter is getting out of hand.
To sum up, emotional eating is present in all of our lives, to certain extents. However, some individuals are more likely to succumb to emotional eating than others. It can be a vicious circle very hard to break. Yet, you will need to give your best, since tolerating this problem can only make matters worse.