Did you know that there are five emotional eating styles? This post is designed to help you work out which of the five emotional eating styles you are, and learn the first steps to developing a healthier relationship with food.
What is Emotional Eating?
Emotional eating is when you turn to food for stress relief, comfort, as a reward or to help you through an emotional upset. It helps you to ‘zone out’ and feel calmer, soothed or relieved in the moment.
If you’re an emotional eater, you may feel powerless over your food cravings and when the urge to eat hits, it’s all you can think about.
As an emotional eating coach, I’ve learned that:
- At least 90% of women use food to soothe their stress or emotions.
- For those women, “eating to zone out” usually escalates into something more serious.
What I mean is this: emotional eating can quickly escalate into frustration with yourself, your body and your weight.
Then you end up tired, deflated, and anxious.
Trying to sublimate an emotion is like trying to ignore a child who desperately wants your attention.
The child just screams louder and louder until they get adult attention.
Your emotions are just like that child. If you nurture and pay attention to them, they won’t need to scream at you in the form of an overly active appetite.
Who wants to be stuck in THAT vicious cycle?
Not me. But I used to be that girl, now I know there is a process to start eating with a sense of FREEDOM, self-confidence and empowerment.
I’m about to share that with you.
Emotional Eating Disables Consistency
You’ve undoubtedly read or heard that consistency is the most important aspect of healthy living—regularly eating a nutritionally balanced meal, exercising several times a week, and so on.
One of the challenges of being an emotional eater is that it’s really hard to be consistent with healthy habits, as you keep spiraling back into that unhelpful cycle.
Part of the reason we fall into that unhealthy pattern is this: unless your eating regimen suits your personality, it will feel as unnatural as ill-fitting clothes or shoes, and you will eventually abandon anything that feels uncomfortable.
Your current eating habits or ‘rules’ may not allow you the freedom and flexibility to deal with emotional challenges when they arise.
Breaking the Cycle
The first step to breaking the emotional eating cycle is to find out which of the five types of emotional eater you are. That way, you can understand your own unique challenges and tailor a solution to suit YOU.
Armed with that knowledge, you can work out the right way to move into a new emotion free eating style.
Here are the steps to breaking the cycle:
- Identify your unique eating style
- Work out your unique emotional triggers (even the hidden ones)
- Create your personal emotion free eating strategy
Many people tell me they possess characteristics from all five eating styles! Thirty-one different blends of emotional overeating are actually possible.
For now, have a look through these five emotional eating styles and work out which ones resonate most with you.
The 5 emotional eating styles:
#1 Binge Eating
Binge eaters have these characteristics:
- Black-and-white rules about food (e.g. I ate a chocolate, I’ve blown my whole diet today. I’ll start again next Monday).
- You eat when anxious as a result of blood sugar fluctuations, triggered by eating high-sugar foods. This anxiety leads to a cycle of binge-eating to relieve the condition.
What this really means is that you have unmet needs and you’re using food as an emotional crutch, to help you feel less anxious and stressed.
Here are some of the typical triggers for binge-eating that you may struggle with:
- Sweets, pastas, and breads trigger you to overeat
- Skipping meals
- Feeling anxious and irritable
- Feeling exhausted
- No time for yourself
- No joy
Your hidden trigger is foods high in sugar, which cause blood sugar fluctuations and then overwhelming cravings.
2. Mood Eating
Mood eaters have these characteristics:
- Overeating in response to strong emotions and feeling overwhelmed
- You are a sensitive individual who is very compassionate and empathetic with respect to other people
- You intuitively know when something is troubling another person.
What this really means is that you’re using food as an emotional crutch, to help you manage feeling overwhelmed and engulfed in other people’s problems and feeling like no one is attending to your needs.
Here are some of the typical triggers for mood eating that you may struggle with:
- You are sensitive & empathetic to other people’s feeling
- You often feel overwhelmed
- You are neglecting your self and put others needs first
- No time for yourself
- No joy and fun in your life
Your hidden trigger is your own feelings being sublimated or ignored as you care for others first.
3. Self-Esteem Eating
Self-esteem eaters have these characteristics:
- You have a tendency to eat to feel good about yourself (in other words, for self-esteem)
- You use food as a friend, a companion, and for entertainment.
- You relate better to food, books, animals, and movies than you do to other people because you fear facing the truth of your habit.
What this really means is that you’re using food as an emotional crutch and friend, to help you relate better to people and avoid feeling vulnerable.
Here are some of the typical triggers for self-esteem eating that you may struggle with:
- Using food for comfort, companionship & solace
- Feeling lonely and rejected with no one to turn to
- Feeling shame & no self worth
- Feeling misunderstood
- Having little confidence in your ability to lead a healthful lifestyle
- Not believing that you deserve the benefits of having a fit and healthy body.
Your hidden triggers are fear of being emotionally vulnerable in front of others, and facing difficulties in interpersonal relationships.
4. Stress Eating
Stress eaters have these characteristics:
- You eat to cope with stress and frustration in areas of life that take time and effort to correct. Because you can’t just snap your fingers and “fix it”, you eat to ease the tension.
What this really means is that you use food to help you calm your ever-taut nerves and pump up your enthusiasm and energy.
Here are some of the typical triggers for stress eating that you may struggle with:
- Too much on your plate
- Low energy
- Overwhelm – not enough time in the day
- No time for self care and fun
Your hidden trigger is feeling angry & resentful that everybody else gets to relax and have fun, while you are left with all the chores and responsibility.
5. Snowball-Effect Eating
Snowball-effect eaters have these characteristics:
- You snowball eat (can’t stop eating a particular food, like ice-cream) in an attempt to gain control.
- Your determination to stick with a healthful eating and exercise program fluctuates to a great extent.
What this really means is you’re using food as an emotional crutch to help you feel in total control, to achieve something or to obtain a sense of balance in your life.
Here are some of the typical triggers for snowball-effect eating that you may struggle with:
- Need for total control
- Black-and-white approach to weight loss
- Kicking off with high enthusiasm that dies down very quickly
- Giving up quickly when things are not working out the way you planned
- Inconsistent motivation levels – high one day, flat the next
Your hidden trigger is that your weight-loss efforts are externally motivated (you are doing it for other people, or events). This sort of motivation doesn’t last and it’s unsatisfying.
Why is Knowing Your Emotional Eating Style Important?
Right now you’re in a cycle that creates highs and lows, and drives seemingly endless hunger and cravings. That means you’re thinking about food all the time, and that your body and mind are hanging onto fat, toxins and excess baggage.
Exploring these 5 styles of emotional eating gives you a starting point to understanding what’s going on for you. And the more you understand about yourself, the more you’re able to work with—instead of against—yourself.
All five emotional eating styles can use food craving interpretation to reduce or eliminate intrusive desires to overeat.
As you can tell, there’s a lot more to this than just understanding the basic emotional eating styles. Now, you can dig deeper to work out specifically what your personal lifestyle triggers are for emotional eating, and how best to deal with them.
Create a 5-step plan to manage your emotional eating styles
Creating a 5-step plan to get out of emotional eating looks something like this:
- Knowing your eating style (and you’ve done this bit)
- Being clear on all your triggers (this takes some diary work and observation)
- Challenging your limiting beliefs around these triggers (useful to work with a coach)
- Rewiring your unconscious habits
- Developing 3 key strategies to help you start enjoying good nutrition by learning to eat intuitively and with a sense of FREEDOM, self-confidence and empowerment .
It’s your time to take control of this once and for all.
Really listen to your food cravings—they are part of your inner voice, and provide valuable information!
I support women like you to create a passport to freedom by rewiring your body and mind …so you can take back your personal power and make peace with food.
I ‘m here to help. If you want to get rid of emotional eating, and are ready to take the next step, contact me to book a 15-minute discussion.
We’ll see if I am able to help you and whether we are a fit to work together.
Emotional Eating Coach
BSc (Biomed), Cert IV (PT), Health and Wellness Coach (L3)
I coach women who want to put down their fork and pick up their life. If you want to end your struggles with excess weight, stress and self-belief, using your strengths and capabilities, book a free 15-minute mini-coaching session with me and I’ll show you how to transform your life.