Emotional Eating Treatment Center
What is Emotional Eating?
Emotional eating shares several traits with binge eating disorder and compulsive eating — especially the tendency to eat unhealthily large amounts of food at one time. For emotional eaters, though, the problem isn’t only the binge eating itself, but also the reasons behind the binges.
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Emotional eating also shares certain characteristics with alcoholism. Alcoholics are often incapable of dealing with strong emotions — both positive and negative — without alcohol to either drown their sorrows or boost their celebratory mood. For emotional eaters, the behavior is similar — just with food instead of alcohol as the substance of choice/compulsion.
Emotional eaters turn to food in response to negative stimuli such as a bad day at the office or an argument with a friend. They may also overeat when feeling particularly euphoric. Some people knowingly attempt to eat their angst away (or push their “high” to a higher level), while others are unaware of the connection between what they’re feeling and what they’re eating.
Causes of Emotional Eating
Regardless of how conscious they are of the impetus for their actions, emotional eaters use food in a misdirected attempt to deal with emotional situations. No two emotional eaters are the same, and no list of reasons people overeat could ever be comprehensive, but the following are some common “triggers,” or impulses and emotions that often lead to bingeing or overeating:
Co-occurring conditions such as depression disorder, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and others can also influence the behavior of an emotional eater.
Symptoms of Emotional Eating Disorder
Common symptoms to look for in someone you suspect may engage in compulsive overeating include:
- Overeating during or immediately after stressful experiences
- Eating excessive amounts of food in a short period time
- Eating until the point of discomfort or pain
- Being incapable of stopping or limiting intake once eating has begun
- Shame in the aftermath of eating binges
- Cyclical behavior
Health Effects of Emotional Eating
Many dangerous physical symptoms can result from compulsive overeating.
These include the following:
- High blood pressure
- High blood
- High cholesterol
- Digestive problems
- Menstrual problems
Treatment for Emotional Eating
Treating emotional eating can can occur via a variety of means in many settings (including, for example, outpatient therapy, residential treatment, and partial hospitalization. Psychotherapy is a key component of treatment for emotional eating. When the emotional eater identifies and addresses issues that have prompted them to engage in this self-harming behavior, they are able to regain control over their behaviors. Nutritional counseling from experts is often also involved, in order to ensure that any needed weight loss is achieved in a healthy way.