Have you ever ate because you were bored? When you were upset or sad? Craved potato chips or candy? These are all examples of emotional eating.
What is emotional eating?
Emotional eating, also known as stress eating, is using food to satisfy your emotional needs rather than physical hunger. Emotional eating usually comes in the form of a craving whenever we are feeling an emotion that we do not want to face head-on. Emotional eating is connected to our emotional, physical, and spiritual needs within our body and it is important to know what our cravings are telling us.
What causes emotional eating?
When something in our life is out of balance, there’s a high chance that we’re struggling with emotional eating. When we are dissatisfied with a certain part of our lives, we often use food as a substitute for pleasure or comfort. Constantly relying on food to bring temporary pleasure and filling a void makes it harder to distinguish whether we’re eating because we’re physically hungry or emotionally hungry. When we are facing eating challenges, our spirit is telling you that something is out of balance!
What are the cravings?
Each food craving that we face is either physical, emotional, spiritual, or a combination. Paying attention to what we need at the moment helps to bring clarity to how to solve the craving. While there are numerous cravings that we face, here are the three main ones:
If a food is sweet, there is a 10/10 chance of sugar being one of the ingredients. Sugar is a quick source of energy and our bodies are aware of this. Whenever we crave sweets, on a physical level, our cells aren’t receiving enough energy. What causes this, is the lack of minerals for insulin secretion. To help this physical craving, eat a fruit rather than candy.
On an emotional level, sadness may be occurring that we are unable to face. We want our serotonin, a neurotransmitter that brings the feeling of happiness, to be stimulated and released. It’s easier to turn to a carton of ice cream rather than facing the depths of blue we feel within our heart. Rather than picking up your sweet coping mechanism, talk to a trusted friend or spend time with yourself to figure out what’s going on inside.
On a spiritual level, live does not feel fulfilling. We are dissatisfied and not feeling motivated by life. What helps is doing what brings you joy in life. Listen to your favorite music, go out with friends, watch a funny show, or even go outside and do cartwheels!
We’ve all craved some potato chips before. With salt cravings, the physical, emotional, and spiritual are related, though the solutions are different. To crave a salty snack/dish on the physical level means there’s a disruption in the kidneys and adrenals which control the body’s water balance. Having a lot of stress constantly exhausts our adrenals reducing aldosterone (a hormone that helps to retain sodium). To solve this physical need, support the adrenal by taking vitamin b5, herbs (holy basil, Siberian gingseng, rhodiola to name a few). And doing an activity that relieves stress such as yoga.
On an emotional/spiritual level it’s also being constantly stressed. Being stressed by life means that we’re resisting the flow. We may be having a salt craving because we want to find acceptance without making our stance on life more controlled. What helps ease the salt cravings is working on mindfulness, and going with the flow of life, putting our trust in what’s unfolding.
When we crave fatty foods, our body is usually craving saturated fats which helps maintain bone density and calcium. On a physical level, we may have calcium deficiency. It could also be a desire for cellular stability.
On a spiritual level, our ego may be wounded. The liver is in control of the solar plexus which represents personal power and self worth . Eating fatty foods consistently may cause our abdominal to become bloated and uncomfortable because our liver is overworked. To help this craving and imbalance, accept your importance in life. See your authenticity and accept it. For this to truly work, you have to want it.
Sometimes, when we think we’re hungry, it’s really our internal selves asking for attention. Rather than drowning it out with the instant gratification of tasty food, listen to it’s voice and give it love and attention like the true divine being you are?
To apply this to life, pay attention to:
- When you eat
- What you eat
Next time you feel a craving sneak up, take a deep breath and go inside 🙂
(For those who want to research more, other cravings that are emotional are: crunchy – anger, soft filling starches (pasta, bread) – seeking comfort, caffeine – mental exhaustion)