You may not know this but emotional overeating is the reason that 95 percent of diets fail. You might already know you’re an emotional eater. Or you might not be sure and you may need a little bit more information to decide. The first step is to find out if you are emotionally hungry. Below are the twelve types of emotional hunger that trigger emotional eating. As you read through the list, ask yourself how many of these apply to you and your life. If you use food in any of the ways listed below, you’ll know that Emotional Eating is the real reason you struggle with your weight.
1. Food: My Adult Pacifier
If you get really hungry when you feel angry, depressed, anxious, bored, or lonely, you use food to dull the pain that these emotions cause.
2. I Stick Up For Myself by Stuffing Myself Up
If you react by getting hungry when others talk down to you, take advantage of you, belittle you, or take you for granted, you eat to avoid confrontation.
3. Food: My One Faithful Friend
If you crave food when you have tension in your close relationships, you eat to avoid feeling the pain of rejection or anger.
4. When I’m Chewing I Can’t Hear My Inner Critic
If you tend to become hypercritical of yourself, if you label yourself “stupid,” “lazy,” or “a loser,” you eat to stuff down self-hatred.
5. I Don’t Have Love but I Have Food
If your hunger gets activated because your intimate relationships don’t satisfy some basic need like trust or security, you use food to try to fill the gap.
6. Food Can’t Fill Up the Missing Parts in My Past
If you eat to make up for the deprivation you experienced as a child, you eat to forget the past.
7. Don’t Tell Me What to Eat
If you eat to assert your independence because you don’t want anyone telling you what to do, you eat to rebel.
8. I’m Too Busy Eating to Take a Risk
If your appetite kicks in when you’re faced with new challenges - if you use food to avoid rising to the test, you eat to protect yourself from the fear of failure.
9. Fall in Love? I’d Rather Fall in Chocolate
If you stuff your face in order to avoid your sexuality—either to stay overweight so that nobody desires you or to hide from intimate encounters—you eat to protect yourself from getting too close.
10. I Use My Body as a Battleground
Emotional eaters often eat to pay back those who have hurt them, often in the distant past. They use their bodies as battlegrounds for working out old resentments. If you do this, you eat to get revenge or control anger.
11. I Won’t Grow Up
If you eat to make yourself feel carefree, like a child, you eat to keep yourself from facing the challenges of growing up.
12. I’m Secretly Afraid of Being Thin
If you overeat because you fear getting thin, either consciously or unconsciously, you eat to avoid the fear of change.
By Roger Gould, M.D. for EmpowHer