What is Emotional Eating?
We do not always eat just to satisfy physical hunger. Many of us use food to make ourselves feel better. Eating to satisfy emotional needs, to relieve stress or cope with unpleasant feelings such as sadness, loneliness, and boredom is emotional eating. For example, one may reach for a cup of ice cream when feeling down, order a pizza if bored or lonely, or visit a fast food joint after a stressful day.
Young children and teens are quite impulsive. As they struggle to make changes to their eating and exercise patterns, the mind plays a prominent, if not the most important role. Youngsters might not give themselves the time to mull over their thoughts about eating and may just react to thought triggers quickly. For example, if a child is bored, she may open the fridge and help herself to a chocolate bar.
Children also struggle with conflicting thoughts about food. For instance, a teenager struggling with his weight and trying to make changes might think, “Alright, I just had dinner and dessert. I feel full, but I want a second portion of dessert.” Then, he considers the choices. “I know I just had dinner but I still want to a second portion of dessert.” or “Although I am full, there’s room for a bit extra”. He will follow up by judging his thoughts, “Why can I not control myself?” Then dread and hopelessness creep in, followed by surrendering. He will say, “I’ll never be able to do this”. This inability to process and deal with thoughts, gradually hampers the child’s morale and it often pushes him or her to a never-ending vicious cyc