What is Comfort Eating?
For many, food is closely associated with emotion. It’s used to celebrate, to mourn, and to entertain. As such, more people than ever are being faced with an emotional eating disorder, also known as a comfort eating disorder.
At its core, a comfort eating disorder is a habit where a person turns to food for just that: comfort. You might eat when you feel happy, sad, lonely, or some other emotion that your body feels the need to supplement with food. While extremely common, comfort eating has a tremendous potential to negatively impact your health.
Identifying Comfort Eating
Do you find yourself reaching for food when your mood changes? If you catch yourself regularly heading into the kitchen when you get good news, bad news, or simply find yourself feeling bored, lonely, sad, or even happy, you likely have a comforting eating issue. Many people get into the habit of comfort eating simply because of how they were raised and because of the norms of our society where food finds its way into just about every event and occasion, usually as an integral part of it.
The Dangers of Comfort Eating
Obviously, overeating is among one of the biggest risks you’ll face if you are a comfort eater. Some other side effects that can come along with comfort eating habits are severe eating disorders, where you may begin binge eating or going through phases of radical dieting attempting to counteract your emotional overeating. None of these things are healthy, and a medical professional can assist you in overcoming them.
Another bad thing about comfort eating is that, usually, the “comfort foods” people turn to are far from healthy. Mainly, they are empty calories and tend to be high in sugar.
Overcoming Comfort Eating
“Intuitive eating” is a practice most healthcare professionals recommend that everyone adapts to. With intuitive eating, you’ll check in with yourself before taking a bite of anything. The goal is to only eat when you feel hungry. Otherwise, you put the food down, drink some water, and busy yourself with something else. It can be a struggle at first as you break away from your comfort eating habits, but gradually you will find yourself adapting to this new approach.
In a matter of time, your intuitive eating habit will enable you to turn down food when you aren’t hungry and stop eating simply out of boredom or emotion. This prevents overeating and generally leads to a healthier lifestyle.