You have probably seen the popular commercial with the animated woman with a cloud over her head or you have seen the advertisement that asks, “Who does depression hurt?”
Unfortunately, depression can be a taboo subject that people sweep under the rug or do not discuss with their families and friends. Some women confide in their doctors and find that psychotropic drugs like anti-depressants can alleviate the symptoms. Others turn to therapists or pastoral counseling to understand the core causes of their depression. Yet another set of women turn to food.
Depression is not only real in the Black community, but it can lead to a series of other life-altering events, including overeating. Some people eat because they are hungry; others eat out of boredom and yet others eat as a way to cope. Emotional pain and duress can lead to overeating, especially for women. Some refer to this as emotional easting.
Five signs that you might be an emotional eater:
1. Emotional hunger can be triggered instantaneously by an event, a conversation, or anything that prompts you to eat, even if you are not physically hungry.
2. Craving specific foods that bring you emotional comfort, commonly called ‘comfort foods’. Often these are foods from your childhood or foods that you associate with positive, happy memories from your past.
3. Being full is not enough; even though your physical hunger has been satisfied, you keep eating
4. Hording food or hiding food from others. Do you have a Twinkie drawer that only you know about?
5. Feeling guilty after eating.
Overeating is not always a sign of depression, but it definitely suggests that you are eating for some reason other than hunger.
The good news is that emotional eating is something that you can address. The first step is to recognize the signs of emotional eating. In addition, emotional eating can be managed. Do not feed your emotions; instead, identify what you are feeling and if possible, why you feel as you do. Lastly, do not to use food to manage, mitigate or manipulate your emotions. Food is a source of substance and sustenance.
Once you uncover why you are an emotional eater, you will find yourself in a much healthier and happier relationship with food.