What is Emotional Eating?
Emotional overeating is just that ~ eating for emotional reasons, rather than physical hunger. Emotional eating is one of the primary causes of weight issues, and can be related to feelings of depression, lack of control and hopelessness. Emotional “hunger” can come on suddenly, oftentimes in the form of a specific food craving, and can compel you to eat even when you have promised yourself you were no longer going to overeat.
Emotional eaters tend to eat past the point of fullness, hoping for some emotional relief from food. Unfortunately, oftentimes after eating comfort foods, feelings of guilt and shame develop. Foods that are considered comforting vary from person to person, although there tend to be common foods that are considered more comforting than others (e.g., ice cream, cereal, pizza).
Binge Eating Disorder: A Most-Common Struggle
Binge Eating Disorder is the most common eating disorder in America today. Surpassing both anorexia and bulimia combined, binge eating disorder afflicts both men and women.
Binge eating disorder is characterized by consuming a very large amount of food in a relatively short period of time, oftentimes eating so fast that you may not be aware of what you are eating or how it tastes. If you are affected by binge eating disorder, you may find that you eat even when you are not hungry and to the point of feeling uncomfortably full. While bingeing, you may feel out of control or unable to stop eating, even though you may want to. After the binge, you may experience feelings of shame or guilt.
As eating disorder specialists with more than 26 years of experience helping people develop a healthy relationship with food, their body & weight, we know that overeating isn’t due to a “lack of willpower.” To successfully change compulsive overeating or binge eating behavior, it is necessary to identify the reasons why food has become such an important way to cope, and then to learn the emotional and behavioral skills that will help you get through the emotional challenges of life, without the need to excessively turn to food.
Differences Between Emotional Overeating & Binge Eating Disorder
You may be wondering how emotional overeating is different from binge eating. There are many similarities, including eating that is fueled by emotions, eating past the point of feeling full, and feeling guilt and ashamed after eating. The main differences between emotional eating and binge eating are:
- Emotional eating is not defined by the quantity of food consumed; binge eating is defined by eating a relatively large amount of food in one sitting.
- Emotional eating may occur at a fast, normal, or slow speed; binge eating occurs at a rapid pace.
- Emotional eating may occur in the company of others ~ grazing on snacks at work to stave off boredom, or stuffing yourself at a buffet; binge eating is almost always done in secrecy when no one is around.
- Emotional eating is not a diagnosable eating disorder, despite the fact that it can have devastating effects on one’s physical and emotional well-being.
Treatment of Emotional Overeating & Binge Eating Disorder
Helping people develop a healthy relationship with food, their body, and weight is our passion. We know that your overeating isn’t due to your being “weak” or “unable to control yourself around food.” Quite the contrary, many, many highly successful people struggle in their relationship to food!
When you focus on what is driving your compulsion to overeat, you will be successful at finding a solution – for life!
Depending on your personal needs, we offer an abundance of individual emotional & nutritional services to help you gain control of your relationship with food. The following is a sample of some of the services we offer on an individual basis:
- Individual Therapy
- Nutritional Assessment
- Nutritional Therapy & Ongoing Support
- Physical Strength and Movement Assessment
- Individual and Small Group “Intuitive Movement” Training Sessions
- Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes Nutritional Management & Support
- Couple and/or Family Therapy
- DBT Skills Group
If you are struggling to gain a healthy relationship over food, please know there IS an effective solution. You do not have to struggle for the rest of your life! If you are ready, we are here to help.