Recognizing Emotional Eating
It is clear, from these words, that the intention of food in Islam is for nourishment, and that we as muslims should eat to live, and not live to eat. However, that does not mean that we can't enjoy our food. Nor are we forced to eat something we dislike. In fact,
"The Prophet (PBUH) never criticised any food (he was invited to) but he used to eat it if he liked the food, and leave it if he disliked it." - Sahih Bukhari
The key here is, as with almost everything in Islam, Subhan Allah, moderation. Sometimes we overdo it on the bad stuff, especially junk food, and don't eat enough of the good stuff. This isn't necessarily related to hunger, in fact it's emotional eating. I know some of the brothers are like, "What emotions? That's for women!" Haha, well maybe we're more emotional, but how many times have you, brothers, drowned out the stresses of the workday grind with a faceful of pizza or potato chips? Probably more often than you'd like to admit.
To tell if our eating is emotional or not, let's go down the list of charasteristics for emotional eating, from an article entitled "8 traits of Emotional Eaters" by Dr. Roger Gould, Emotional Eating Expert. (full article here.)If you think these sound all too familiar, than maybe you are eating emotionally.
1. My hunger comes on suddenly.
Physical hunger comes on slowly. Hunger from emotional eating often comes on quickly and suddenly.
2. I crave specific foods — generally not carrot sticks or steamed broccoli. Cravings for specific, usually unhealthy foods is a sign of emotional eating. Often people like the rush they get from satisfying their cravings. That rush is fulfilling emotional hunger.
3. My hunger feels urgent — I need a particular food right away and I'm willing to walk out of my way, or get in your car late at night, or raid my kid's candy to get it. Physical hunger, unless you haven't eaten for a very long time, is usually pretty patient. It will wait for food. Emotional hunger demands to be satisfied immediately.
4. My hunger is often paired with an upsetting emotion — if I backtrack a few hours or a few days I'll usually find an upsetting event and feeling that triggered the urge. Hunger that's connected to an upsetting emotion or situation is definitely emotional hunger. Physical hunger is not typically triggered by emotions.
5. My eating habits involve unconscious eating — all of a sudden I'm eating ice-cream and I find the whole container is gone. When you're eating for physical reasons, you are usually mindful of what you're doing. If you catch yourself eating "just because," then it's likely you're eating for emotional reasons.
6. I don't stop eating in response to being full — I keep wanting more of the taste of the food.
Physical hunger doesn't need to be stuffed in order to be satisfied. Emotional hunger on the other hand often demands more and more food to feel satisfied.
7. My hunger isn't located in belly — I crave the taste of a certain food in my mouth or I can't stop thinking of a certain food. Feeling hungry in this way is usually a sign of emotional hunger. Physical hunger is happy to get what it can, while emotional hunger usually focuses on specific tastes and textures.
8. After I satisfy my hunger, I am often filled with a sense of regret or guilt. Feeding your body what it needs is not something to feel guilty about. If you feel guilty after you eat, it's likely because part of you knows you're not eating just to satisfy physical hunger.
Well? How'd you do? If you're like me, you were probably surprised at just how many of them seemed to fit. Which is okay! Emotional eating is very common, but the good news is, there are ways to conquer it -and not all of them require you to seek psychological help. In fact, my next post insha'Allah will be about ways we can help ourselves overcome emotional eating habits. Salams for now, and remember to STAY HEALTHY!