I get asked this all the time, “How do I know if I am an emotional eater?” It is a question that is personal and individual. It can be hard to know. I think of emotional eating as a puzzle with many pieces. Here are some of the clues for you to see what emotional eating is:

  1. Eating when you are not hungry.
  2. Using food to comfort yourself.
  3. Using food to help with situations that feel uncomfortable.
  4. Eating to overfull.
  5. Feeling bad about what you eat and your overeating.
  6. Calling food good and bad.
  7. Feeling bad about your body and your weight.

Any of these signs by themselves are not necessarily indicative of emotional eating. You might be someone who engages in emotional eating, at times, and it does not cause you a problem. It is socially acceptable to overeat at holidays and family celebrations that happen sporadically. There are people whose overeating is the exception rather than the rule. They may find one or two of the above questions are a yes, but not many more than that.

Knowing if you are an emotional eater or not is helpful, because then you can begin to get a direction to end the emotional eating. It can be important to know if you are an emotional eater, because many emotional eater are prone to join on the diet bandwagon. I have seen this happen over and over again. Dieting is the socially acceptable way to manage food and weight issues. Right? Problem is if you are eating for emotional reasons, a diet does not help you.

If you find the answers to many of the above questions are a yes, you might be an emotional eating. If so, you do not need to worry. Now you have a name to the problem and that can lead you to a solution. Many of us have the same problem and there is a solution. Knowing there is a problem and naming it is the first step to the freedom that I know you are looking for.

Kim McLaughlin, MA is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in helping people with eating issues and eating disorders.  If you are concerned that about overeating, weight or your use of food in general please contact her here. Sign up for her FREE Top Tips to End Emotional Eating here. Check out her website at www.FeedYourSoulTherapy.com.

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