Why do we eat?  It seems like a simple enough question with a simple answer; to stay alive and fuel our body.  However, we know that the answer is sometimes not so simple.  Eating is tied to life events, to bring people together, to celebrations and holidays and for many people, eating is a way to feel better and self-soothe.  As a young child, food may have been the tool used to reward, to soothe your emotions or you may have discovered eating helped numbed uncomfortable feelings.  Emotional eating results when food gets paired with emotion versus simply as fuel for the body.
So what exactly is emotional eating?  The following are some examples of what it may look like.
•    Eating when you are already full or not physically hungry
•    Eating following or during a stressful event
•    Experiencing intense cravings for a particular food
•    Not feeling satiated after eating an adequate meal
•    Eating late at night
•    Hiding what and when you are eating
•    Using food to numb feelings.
•    Not being aware of what you’re eating and how much.

Once the food gets paired with emotion we may begin to use food to cope versus developing alternative coping skills to handle the intense emotion or situation.   This creates a cycle of emotional eating, eating to soothe when the going gets rough.  It’s not a simple lack of willpower because often, for the emotional eater, meal plans, dieting and discipline don’t work. So what can we do instead?  The first step is to notice the pattern and identify why am I eating?  Using a hunger scale or journaling thoughts and feelings that have led to eating can be useful, as well as finding a support group to work through and process feelings related to emotional eating.  At STA we run a group-specific to emotional eaters.  This group is home to anyone struggling with, binge eating, bulimia, feeling out of control with food, or any recent or upcoming gastric surgery.  We focus on putting you in the driver’s seat so that food does not control your life.

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