The Dangers of Emotional Eating

Do you feel like you fall into the trap of emotional eating and don’t feel in control of your impulses? Do you feel like eating when you’re stressed, sad, anxious will help you feel better? How do you feel afterward? Do you tend to eat more when you’re happy or unhappy?

These are questions to ask yourself when it comes to your healthy eating habits. Maybe you’re struggling with your weight, or unhappy with the way you look, or your fitness level. Do you feel sluggish and tired all the time because you’re dealing with too much stress, anxiety, or depression? You might be overwhelmed with work or running a household, or both!

Whatever you do, don’t reach for that junk food or those sweets to make you feel better. That feeling of comfort and instant gratification eventually leads to long term health issues and nutrient deficiencies. It’s a vicious cycle that will actually leave you even more tired and sluggish.

What are the Dangers of Emotional Eating?

The first and obvious danger of emotional eating is weight gain and obesity. Since you may be eating at odd hours and are most likely reaching for foods high in sugars and fat, your body is receiving an immense amount of excess calories that will more likely turn directly into fat storing molecules. In the short run, you’ll start gaining weight. In the long run, it’ll be harder to lose that weight!

Emotional Eating Can Cause Health Problems

A lot of the times eating during emotional times will generate a feeling of calm and satiety, but these are fleeting – they almost instantaneously disappear. The excess fat, salt, and sugar will lead to a spike in your blood sugar, leaving you with a momentary sugar rush. Soon after, you will feel lethargic and slow-moving as your energy levels crash.

Over time, obesity can cause health complications like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, gout, ulcers, back pain, joint pain, problems with blood circulation, muscle pain, to name a few.

Weight Gain Tends to Lead to More Signs of Depression

Usually, unwanted weight gain is accompanied by feelings of guilt and sadness. Emotional eating is a vicious cycle of stress, anxiety, comfort from food, instant regret, and repeat. Depression can lead to weight gain, and weight gain can lead to more emotional eating.

Emotional Eating is Not an Adequate Coping Mechanism

When we choose to indulge in “empty” food lacking in true nutritional value during moments of emotional anxiety or pressure, we’re unconsciously training our minds and bodies engage in this behavior regularly. Next time we’re in a similar situation it will be harder to fight the cravings for junk food because our bodies expect that satisfaction. Instead of choosing to cope with the stress and anxiety with healthy habits, emotional eating trains your body to cope in an unhealthy way.

There are ways to better ways to approach coping with your emotional health and eating.

  • Don’t multitask – focus only on the matter of eating
  • Evaluate your emotional state before, during, and after eating
  • Explore the smells, flavors, and textures of the food
  • Analyze how different foods can affect your overall mood

Being more mindful of how your body and mind react to certain foods and habits around eating can help develop healthier habits. Even if you still reach for that bag of chips after a tense meeting, understanding what it does to your body and how your mind is affected by urge you to reach for something healthier over time.

Often times, you’re not really hungry during times of emotional eating. You can learn to associate different habits that incorporate health and fitness to cope with stress and anxiety.

  • Meditative Reflection
  • Reading
  • Take a Bath
  • Go for a Walk, Run, or Hike

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