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Emotional Eating Counselling

Emotional eating, sometimes called “eating your feelings,” is a common coping strategy used by people at times of strong emotions. Strictly defined, emotional eating is when a person eats for any reason other than hunger. An emotional eater eats comfort foods to satisfy their feelings in addition to satisfying their appetite. Millions of people nationwide suffer from an eating disorder, many of which are linked to their emotions.

Men and women can both fall into the category of an emotional eater. They might feel alone in their suffering and may want to correct their eating behaviours but don’t know how. Counsellors and/or psychotherapists can help the understand the cause of their emotional eating and learn to lead a healthier and happier life.

Emotional Eating Characteristics

Sometimes the thing that the person needs most when trying to make a difficult change is a supportive and objective ear to listen to the problems that they are facing. A counsellor or psychotherapist can fulfil that role. Identifying that help is required is a huge step towards making healthy changes.

How can I tell the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger?

Emotional hunger… Physical hunger…
Comes on suddenly Gradually grows
Food craving that only a specific food will do. Different food choices can be made.
Will keep eating after becoming full. Stops eating when full.
Needs to be satisfied RIGHT NOW! Can wait.
Eating is followed by feelings of guilt. Not followed by feelings of guilt.

If your eating patterns fall under the emotional hunger category more often than not, then it might be time to seek help.

Emotional Eating Treatment Options

The goal when seeking treatment for emotional eating is to get the right type of support to help the emotional eater to overcome their obstacles. What appropriate support looks like for each person will be different; as such it’s important to know that there are options.

Individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, relaxation programmes, support groups, and dieticians are all potential members of an emotional eaters support team. Family, friends, and clergy members can also be important members of the team.

How will Emotional eating counselling or Psychotherapy help me?

Individual therapy (counselling) can provide a safe place to re-assess thoughts, feelings, triggers and habits as they relate to food.

Group therapy and support groups can provide the individual with a pool of people, potential new friends who can understand their struggles and empathise with them. They can help the client to remember that they are not alone.

Family therapy can help the client and their families update the ways that they relate to and communicate with one another.

Relaxation programmes can provide the individual with another outlet for releasing the stressors that lead them to eat emotionally.

Through working with a counsellor or psychotherapist the emotional eater can learn to recognise when they are eating emotionally and what triggers lead them to eat. They may help the person to create a list of different activities (coping strategies) to use when exposed to those triggers. The ultimate goals will be for the person to improve their self-esteem and self-worth and to learn to eat with purpose.

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