When it comes to unhealthy eating patterns, it’s not so much what we’re eating, it’s why we’re eating it. Emotional eaters don’t consume junk food because it tastes better than vegetables; they do so because it makes them feel better. To break the cycle of emotional eating, you need get to the root of what’s eating you up inside. Based on data from 438 emotional eaters, researchers at PsychTests established nine common factors that can trigger emotional eating:
- Lack of Intimacy: For some emotional eaters, food may provide the comfort that they yearn to receive from a partner, friend or family.
- Feelings of Shame: If an emotional eater has committed a transgression, they will continue to blame and punish themselves.
- Fear of Challenges: Emotional eaters struggle to muster the fortitude to face a daunting task. They don’t believe they have the skills to achieve what they desire and are likely to give up on a difficult goal.
- Fear of Judgment: Emotional eaters have high expectations about what they believe their body should look like — and because they haven’t achieved this ideal, they punish themselves.
- Conflict Avoidance: When a person avoids speaking up, doesn’t bring up grievances and swallows up their emotions, this form of avoidance coping can result in emotional eating.
- Boredom: An idle mind triggers a yearning for change, but rather than satiating this desire with an engaging activity, emotional eaters turn to food.
- Self-sabotaging Beliefs: A desire to end the cycle of emotional eating or adopt a healthier lifestyle can be hindered by a person’s limiting beliefs about their ability to break bad habits, develop self-discipline and change their body.
- Rebellion: Children raised in a rigid household may manifest their desire for freedom through food.
- Physical, Emotional or Sexual Abuse: The relationship between abuse and eating is complex, but research suggests sufferers may turn to food to relieve feelings of shame or to punish themselves. Some may falsely believe abuse was their fault.