When does indulging in your favorite snack cross the line from comfort to concern?
The difference between emotional eating and binge eating lies mainly in how much food you consume. However, other key features may help you distinguish between the two and put an end to unhealthy over-eating or snacking habit.
Stress manifests in different ways, but most of us can relate to the concept of emotional eating. Ever catch yourself wallowing in a container full of ice cream after a particularly stressful day?
Emotional eating or stress eating is when you consume food not out of hunger, but out of anxiety,
frustration, or sadness. For some, emotional eating is triggered by a particular traumatic event but for others, it can just be a habitual reaction to financial or emotional turbulence.
But don’t worry- emotional eating is somewhat normal, and in some cases, better for your mental health depending on how you handle it.
In fact, emotional eating can be great for relieving stress with THE RIGHT FOODS, provided it doesn’t get too out of hand. Eating puts our body into a state of relaxation by activating the parasympathetic nerves. Indulging in and savoring the flavors of food feels good and can lift our moods instantly.
When emotional eating no longer relieves but rather contributes to stress, it can get out of hand.
At a point, emotional eating gives way to self-loathing as we feel ashamed of our indulgence. We want to hide our “binging” episodes, but because of a lack of other emotional coping mechanisms, they spiral out of our control.
To prevent emotional eating from advancing to the next stage, we need to tackle the problem at its roots: stress, frustration, and other emotional ruts.
Binge eating, unlike stress eating, is considered by nutritionists as a potentially severe eating disorder. Characterized by constant overconsumption, BED (Binge Eating Disorder) involves consuming huge quantities of food in a relatively short span of time. It’s not just your average bloated belly after a heavy dinner, but a constant overeating that leaves the body uncomfortable and unhealthy.
The transition from emotional eating to binge eating occurs when you lose your sense of control: you move from being conscious of your reason for eating and how much you eat, to eating without any control over intake. It often leads to guilty eating, which is worse for your mental health and stress levels as well. This leads to a vicious cycle: your stress turns into binge eating, and your binge eating fuels your stress.
What’s worse is that the guilt of binge eating (which usually occurs when alone) traps us in a “shame cage”- we don’t want to reach out to friends or family for fear of revealing ourselves.
But BED is too serious of a condition to keep under wraps. Instead, it is vital to talk to someone if you are experiencing any one of its symptoms. Your attitude towards your body image, your history with other mental health complications, and eating habits in general could be contributing to BED.
Total recovery from binge eating is absolutely possible. It doesn’t need to take over your life. To start your healing process, I encourage you to:
I am always here to talk if you need to. You can take advantage of the 20 minute no-obligation, cravings control and habit change chat if you feel you need some 1:1 guidance. It’s my way of giving back – I know what goes along with being on the path of binge-eating and it stinks. I'd like to help you make a transformation so you don't have to be stuck in this spot any longer but instead you can be reaching the goals you set.
What triggers you to over-eat?
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