In my previous post (http://www NULL.healthehunger NULL.php/site/article/blog_entry_4/), I talked about the definition of emotional eating. In this post, I outline how to identify the signs that you might be an emotional eater. You may recognize yourself in some, many or all of these. Read on to discover the top 10 signs you might be struggling with emotional eating.

Top 10 signs you’re an emotional eater:

1. Do you reach for certain comfort foods whenever you feel sad, depressed, lonely or bored? You may have certain foods that you know are sure to make you feel better, like sweets, pasta, chips, or chocolate. Whenever the slightest feeling of sadness or boredom sets in, you immediately feed it with these comfort foods.

2. Do you reward yourself with food for doing something hard or challenging? You’ve completed a major project, finished your last exam, made it through that terrible meeting with your boss, or spent half the day cleaning up your office. What better way to pat yourself on the back than with a special treat (sushi is one of my personal favourites!).

3. After a hard day, do you treat yourself to your favourite foods? You were late for work, you forgot some important papers at home, the microwave was broken at lunch, and you didn’t complete nearly half of the work you were supposed to. On your way home, you stop and pick up some pizza, because no way are you cooking and besides, you deserve it.

4. Do you eat in order to push away feelings of anxiety or stress? You’re nervous about that upcoming party for 12 you’ve planned, or there’s a major deadline looming over you. To cope, you find yourself snacking on food all day long.

5. Are you preoccupied with food? You often think about food throughout the day, sometimes planning your next meal before you’ve even finished eating your first. You imagine what you’ll be eating for lunch or dinner, and the anticipation keeps you going until mealtime. On your way to the grocery store, you make a mental list of all the tasty treats you’ll put into your shopping cart.

6. Do you find yourself craving certain foods, and can’t rest easy until you satisfy your craving? All of a sudden, you get a terrible craving for a Krispy Kreme doughnut. Not a regular doughnut, not Tim Horton’s doughnut, but a Krispy Kreme doughnut. No substitute will do, and it keeps popping into your head until you feel like you’re going to go crazy. To make it stop, you’ll go out of your way to get that doughnut (or a dozen).

7. Do you use food as a way to express your anger? You’ve gotten into yet another argument with your spouse (maybe over your weight!), and to blow off steam, you crunch on some chips. You might even be doing this as a way to get back at your spouse; rather than talk things out, it’s easier to just ignore each other and distract yourself with food.

8. Will you eat something just because it’s one of your favourites, even if you’re not hungry? You’re visiting your parents, and your mom has cooked up a big batch of your favourite lasagne. You’ve already eaten, but how can you say no? Besides, she’ll be insulted if you don’t at least try it.

9. Do you sometimes put food in your mouth without realizing it? You take out a bag of chips, and before you know it, you’ve already reached the bottom of the bag. This kind of mindless eating takes you away from your body’s true hunger signals, and can lead you down the path of a destructive pattern of emotional eating.

10. Do you feel stressed, angry or guilty after eating? You’ve done it again. You’ve polished off that whole box of cookies, and now you have a stomachache. Why can’t you just control yourself? You start to worry about what the scale will say tomorrow. You don’t understand why you do this to yourself, and the guilt just makes you want to eat more.

If you see yourself in many or all of these scenarios, you’re probably an emotional eater. You may see yourself in some of these sometimes, but that doesn’t mean that you have a problem. We all use food to comfort or reward ourselves sometimes. But the more often you engage in these behaviours, and the more they control your life, the more of a problem you have.

Be sure to check out my eating personality quiz in my resources section or by clicking here.