Nearly all of us are guilty of emotional eating every once in a while. I know that I am! But before any change can be made, you have to acknowledge the symptoms and be aware of them so you can recognize for yourself when you are emotionally, not physically hungry. Here are some signs to watch out for when you eat emotionally.

1. Mindless Eating- This can be caused by boredom, or habit. As you sit in a movie theater, you always have a large bucket of popcorn, and single-handedly consume the entirety of the container. If you find that you often realize you have eaten a lot more than you thought you had, be aware of that eating cycle. Keep yourself accountable for how much you eat. Try to order just a small popcorn, or share with others. You can’t eat more food than you have in front of you. Don’t eat out of habit, eat out of hunger.

2. Comfort Foods- Craving comfort foods should be a red flag if that is all that sounds good to you. When you are truly hungry almost everything sounds good. Even those carrot sticks, and orange slices. If ice cream or cinnamon rolls is all that sounds good, odds are you probably don’t actually need anything to eat. Making a menu, and shopping for only things scheduled can help combat giving in to those cravings.

3. Overeating- Eating more than you need is a common sign of emotional eating, particularly if you never quite feel satisfied even when you have eaten more than you need. When you eat emotionally the hunger doesn’t come from the traditional hunger pains. The desire to eat comes from your head, not your stomach. If your stomach isn’t even on the verge of growling you probably don’t need that whole pan of brownies (even if your stomach is growling, I wouldn’t recommend eating an entire pan of brownies)

4. Guilty Feelings- When you finish a meal or a snack, you shouldn’t feel guilty. We need food to survive, and eating is not a bad thing. Constantly feeling guilty can be a sign that you are eating when you are not hungry, and making poor food choices. Avoid the shame, and focus on only eating when you are truly hungry. Then there is no need to feel bad at all. Food is what is keeping you alive after all!

As cliche as it is, recognizing the signs is really the first step to beating emotional eating. If you have specific foods you find yourself always overindulging in, keep them out of the house, and only do your grocery shopping when you have recently eaten. Shopping while hungry can be dangerous for your pantry, since you are more prone to make impulse purchases. Be strong.

Becca Capell
iFit Head Trainer