Do you find yourself going to the junk food cupboard every time something doesn’t go your way? In this post, I want to share 3 major signs of emotional eating that you can watch out for when you are reaching for junk food, and then I will also give you my best tip to combat emotional eating.
**Here is my Youtube Video on 3 Signs Of Emotional Eating if you would rather watch than read!**
Sign #1: You Feel This Intense Relief While You’re Eating!
This is one sign to watch for if you think you may be indulging in emotional eating. You may not have thought about this before. If you’re going for food and then getting the food in your hand, and as soon as it’s in your mouth you feel like your whole body is calming down. Or you feel better instantly, or you feel like you relax immediately. These are sure signs that you are engaging in emotional eating. This is more than enjoying your food – it is an intense feeling of relief that overtakes you!
We believe that food should be like fuel for our bodies. We want to eat to live rather than live to eat. When we are eating to live and we fuel our bodies in a healthy way, then we have control over our food and we most likely have a healthy relationship with food. When we are living to eat, then food has control over us and we most likely have an unhealthy relationship with food.
So next time you catch yourself running for food, be aware of how you react to the food. If you instantly start to feel relieved, or you start to feel your blood pressure go down and you can’t wait to just sit down and indulge in the food, that’s a sure sign of emotional eating. This kind of emotional eating is likely not helping you achieve your weight loss goals.
Sign #2: Snacking When You’re Not Hungry Or When You Feel Full.
Why do we do this?
I struggle with this sign of emotional eating. I have started asking myself this question every time I go to the cupboard for food. Why am I here doing this? Why am I here eating this? Why am I here doing this? Why am I here eating this?
It all sounds so repetitive, but when you actually start asking yourself why you are at the junk food cupboard eating, you become more aware of emotional eating habits that are preventing your weight loss. Maybe it’s not even going to the junk food cupboard. Maybe you’re going to the fridge or maybe you’re going through the drive-through. Whatever your thing is, start asking yourself, “why am I here doing this?” If the answer is not because you’re hungry, then it’s a sure sign of emotional eating.
So often we snack because of boredom. Many people don’t relate emotional eating with boredom, but half the time we just use food as a time filler because we’re bored. Sometimes it’s a habit, like always eating popcorn at the theater. You’re not hungry, but you associate popcorn with a movie. Your thing might be to automatically go and grab some junk food every time you sit down to watch Netflix, because that’s just a habit you’ve gotten into. You relate junk food with TV. You’re snacking and you’re not hungry!
So Why Do We Snack When We Aren’t Hungry?
I don’t know if you can relate to this, but sometimes I reach for food and then if I stop long enough to think about it, I actually don’t even want to eat what I’m grabbing.
I’ve heard it said that it’s not stomach hunger, it’s mouth hunger! We just want the taste because it’s giving us some sort of dopamine hit! It makes us feel good and makes us happy. Maybe it’s helping us calm down or combat our loneliness, or it’s subsiding our anger or sadness.
We seem to indulge for every reason we can dream up; we eat based on every emotion.
- We eat when we’re happy.
- We eat when we’re sad.
- We eat when we’re upset.
- We eat when we’re stressed out.
- We eat when we’re tired.
- We eat when we’re bored.
- We eat when we’re lonely.
- We eat when we’re angry.
And each time we run to food rather than turn to God for what we truly need, food is actually becoming an idol in our lives. We are turning to food for our source of comfort, our source of love and peace. We are turning to food for fulfillment and satisfaction rather than to God.
We have all these reasons or excuses for indulging in emotional eating, but we don’t seem to know how to combat it or how to take back the control that food has over us.
Sometimes we don’t even know why we are turning to food, but we still keep on eating. We need to dig deep internally to find out why we are turning to food rather than to God.
Here are a few questions to start asking yourself.
- Am I lonely and turning to food for companionship?
- Am I truly hungry or just bored?
- Am I looking for comfort right now?
- Am I upset over an argument or disagreement?
- Has food become my idol?
- Am I turning to food instead of to God?
We want to learn how to feel our feelings and not feed them because God created us with emotions for a reason. And… it wasn’t to send us to the junk food cupboard!
You may have to take some time to process these questions. Learn how to really feel and process what you’re feeling and then respond appropriately. Jesus had feelings too; He knows how we feel and He understands. Stories in the Bible tell us that Jesus had to get away from the crowds because He needed some alone time with his father. So yes, it’s okay for us to acknowledge our feelings too.
Sign #3: Having Obsessive Thoughts About Food.
I’m sure you can relate to me here. Imagine that you are going to a party and you know there will be a feast of all the foods you love! Before you get to the party all you can think about is what you are going to eat or what you’re not going to eat. When you get to the party, all you can think about is what you want to eat, how much you’ve already eaten, and what people are thinking about you because of what you ate.
You keep obsessing about the food. You try not to think about going back for more food, but the more you try not to think about it, the more you think about it. So then you go back for another snack and think, just one more.
Your mind is just obsessive about the food. You may even be in a conversation with someone, but you can’t really focus on the conversation because your mind is still obsessed on going back for more food or drink.
These obsessive thoughts over food are beginning to control your life and it’s becoming a huge issue. Here’s another scenario. You’re at work at your desk, but all you can think of is the lunch room because someone brought in donuts today. You can’t get those ruminating thoughts out of your head – you’re craving the donuts in the break room. So, you give in and have a donut hoping you’ll be able to focus on your work once and for all, but these thoughts don’t go away. You know there are more donuts, and another one is calling your name.
You know you’re not hungry, you’re just obsessing over the food. It’s like an addiction! You’re trying to eat healthy, but these obsessive thoughts about food just won’t go away.
The devil uses this obsession with food because he knows where we are weak. So if food is our weakness, the devil will use this trick to bring us down.
If any of these signs resonate with you, you are probably struggling with emotional eating. The good news is that we are overcomers. We are more than conquerors and we don’t have to let food control our thoughts. With God in our weight loss journey, we have the power within us and the strength we need to overcome emotional eating.
Recap – 3 Signs Of Emotional Eating
- Feeling an intense relief while you’re eating, like it immediately calms you down.
- Snacking when you’re not hungry, like eating popcorn at the movies right after dinner.
- Obsessive thoughts about food, like where the donut is calling your name.
There are many more signs of emotional eating, but these three are big ones for me. If you can relate to any one of them, please know you are not alone.
Tips On How To Combat Emotional Eating:
Surrender Our Emotions
My biggest tip to combat emotional eating is to surrender our emotions and our weight loss journey to God. God is waiting to help us feel our feelings rather than feed our feelings. He knows our hearts and can help us work through our feelings without indulging in emotional eating. This is simple, but not necessarily easy. The Bible says the flesh is weak, but the Spirit is strong.
Galatians 5:16-17 says:
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.Galatians 5:16-17 (NIV)
We can find freedom with Christ in every aspect of our life, including our emotional eating. We find freedom with food by living in the Spirit and surrendering every decision to Him.
Take Ownership For Our Choices
Another big tip for me was to take ownership for my choices. I decided to proclaim this affirmation: “I choose what I want most over what I want right now.”
This one statement changed my relationship with food. I was able to take back the control that food had over me once and for all. Choosing what I wanted most, which was health, rather than indulging in a food choice that would last a moment, helped me make better food choices, regain my health and shed the unwanted pounds. What I wanted in the moment was the sugar rush, the junk food and the feeling of relief, but that only lasted for a fleeting moment and kept me bound in the vicious cycle. Choosing what I wanted most helped me change my food choices and gave me back my freedom with food.
Find Freedom With Food
Instead of using our feelings as an excuse to eat or turn to junk food, let’s surrender our feelings to God and trust him for our strength. In spite of our weakness, He is strong. We can choose to take ownership for what we put into our bodies.
If you are interested in learning more about how to overcome emotional eating, I’d like to invite you to look into our Food Freedom Workshop.
Always Remember, You Are A Woman Chosen For Greatness!