Ask yourself some simple questions:
1. Your hunger is sudden and quick then it's emotional if however it grows slowly its physical.
The best way is to check by using a hunger score like the one below:
If your stomach is grumbling and you score 3-4 then it's time to eat this is physical. Don't delay your meal till the score is 0. If however you have eaten recently and your stomach is quiet and you’re simply not satisfied and you’re searching the kitchen this is emotional.
2. You crave specific foods- this is usually unhealthy foods which is a sign of emotional eating. You can get a rush from satisfying your craving.
3. Physical hunger is patient emotional hunger feels urgent, it demands to be satisfied immediately
4. If you find you are eating whenever something upsetting happens or during a particular situation this is the emotional trigger that is urging you to eat. Physical hunger is not typically triggered by emotions,
5. You noticed after you have eaten that you have finished a whole container of ice-cream or a large bar of chocolate or large bag of crisps then you are eating unconscious for emotional reasons. When you are eating for physical reasons you are usually mindful of what you are doing,
6. You can't stop eating and you don't feel satisfied this is emotional eating. Physical eating doesn't need to be stuffed in order to be satisfied,
7. You can't stop thinking of a certain food with their tastes and textures then this is emotional. Physical eating is happy to eat what it can.
8. You feel guilty or regret after eating because part of you knows you are eating for emotional reasons not to satisfy physical hunger.
So what tips can help you now that you know the difference?
1. Eat mindfully e.g. sitting down to eat with no distractions, chew food well, eating slowly not rushing, do the hunger score and ask how hungry you are eat when you have a score of 3-4, notice each bite you eat instead of mindless munching, ask is my stomach rumbling or am I bored or stressed, have regular 4 hourly balanced meals and healthy snacks to help stay in control,
2. Distract yourself with a drink and fruit if it's emotional, the emotional feeling usually goes away after 20 minutes. Drinking water helps as sometime the craving can be confused with thirst. Write a post stick with your personal health goal and place it near the snack cupboard and surf the urge whenever you see it,
3. Choose healthy foods as far as possible and allow for occasional relapse without feeling guilty.
4. If eating is emotional through comfort or stress or boredom then find alternative ways to alleviate the cause. e.g. hug a loved one instead for comfort or talk to a friend, find a relaxing activity like having a warm bath or yoga or keep busy with a hobby when you are bored,
5. Writing a self-awareness emotional diary may help you recognize the triggers and what time and what days you tend to eat for emotional reasons. This can help you reflect and put in place strategies to help you control emotional eating
6. Choose an affirmation from the list and say every day to raise your confidence and self-esteem.
7. Aim to achieve a healthy weight
For specialised Diet and Nutrition advice seek the advice of a Professional Dietitian and Nutritionist Tabby kabeer