Here are some specific symptoms and signs that you can look for to help you determine if you are an Emotional Eater. See which ones ring true for you...
1. My hunger comes on suddenly.
Physical hunger comes on slowly. Hunger from emotional eating often comes on quickly and suddenly.
2. I crave specific foods—generally not carrot sticks or steamed broccoli.
Cravings for specific, usually unhealthy foods is a sign of emotional eating. Often people like the rush they get from satisfying their cravings. That rush is fulfilling emotional hunger.
3. My hunger feels urgent—I need a particular food right away and I'm willing to walk out of my way, or get in your car late at night, or raid my kid's Halloween candy to get it.
Physical hunger, unless you haven't eaten for a very long time, is usually pretty patient. It will wait for food. Emotional hunger demands to be satisfied immediately.
4. My hunger is often paired with an upsetting emotion—if I backtrack a few hours or a few days I'll usually find an upsetting event and feeling that triggered the urge.
Hunger that's connected to an upsetting emotion or situation is definitely emotional hunger. Physical hunger is not typically triggered by emotions.
5. My eating habits involve unconscious eating—all of a sudden I'm eating ice-cream and I find the whole container is gone.
When you're eating for physical reasons, you are usually mindful of what you're doing. If you catch yourself eating "just because," then it's likely you're eating for emotional reasons.
6. I don't stop eating in response to being full—I keep wanting more of the taste of the food.
Physical hunger doesn't need to be stuffed in order to be satisfied. Emotional hunger on the other hand often demands more and more food to feel satisfied.
7. My hunger isn't located in belly—I crave the taste of a certain food in my mouth or I can't stop thinking of a certain food.
Feeling hungry in this way is usually a sign of emotional hunger or binging. Physical hunger is happy to get what it can, while emotional hunger usually focuses on specific tastes and textures.
8. After I satisfy my hunger, I am often filled with a sense of regret or guilt.
Feeding your body what it needs is not something to feel guilty about. If you feel guilty after you eat, it's likely because part of you knows you're not eating just to satisfy physical hunger.
If you don't experience any of the preceding statements, it's likely that you're struggling with simple biological hunger.
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (NIV)
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