Emotional Eating & The Fucked Up Relationship We Have With Food
Ya’ll know what emotional eating is, right?
Once on my way to dinner, I got excited at the prospect of having Japanese food. I was all smiles, dancing slightly on the front seat of my friend’s car—and then he said something that kind of shocked me:
“I only ever see you happy when you’re about to eat.”
I was ready to rebut him, armed with “of course not’s” and “how dare you’s,” but I realized that he was right. I’m not one to show much emotion and food is really the only thing I outwardly rejoice about.
And when I sit down to think about it, my relationship with food is a pretty fucked up one. I spend an unreasonable amount of brain energy thinking about what to have for lunch, dinner is practically the only thing on my mind as I make my way home and I honestly spend way too much money in restaurants; I hardly ever say no.
Enter: Emotional eating.
Technically speaking, emotional eating is when one consumes food in response to feelings instead of hunger. Angry? Eat. Happy? Eat. Upset? Eat. Ashamed, sad, disgusted? Eat, eat, eat. And if you’re thinking, “Oh, I don’t do that,” let me ask you a few questions before you ride of on your high horse:
Do you eat to procrastinate?
Do you eat to reward yourself?
Do you eat to entertain yourself?
Do you eat when you’re stressed?
If you said yes, then welcome to the club. If you answered no, then enjoy your pony ride.
The simplest answer to the “why” of emotional eating is that loading up on the food gives us a feeling of fullness—no matter how temporary that is. So when we realize that something is missing, we try to compensate with something that’s far easier to control and is usually well within reach.
There are some tricks littered around the web that try to keep emotional eating at bay. The most doable seems to be staying conscious about your food consumption. Physical hunger, after all, develops over time and doesn’t just hit us suddenly, which means those random bursts of hunger might not be one for food. There’s also the fact that our bodies are supposed to desire various food groups and not just, say, chocolates (of which the craving seems to come at the most opportune times of stress, yeah?). Eating also isn’t supposed to leave us with negative feelings in the aftermath—so keep tabs on yourself.
It will take a little bit of effort. I mean, I myself have always thought of food to be this thing that you don’t have to think about—but that just isn’t the case. So, what say you? Shall we take this up in 2020?
Art Alexandra Lara