Emotional eating is eating in response to positive or negative emotions rather than physical hunger. Many people use food as a reward or to celebrate, and, in moderation, this is unlikely to lead to problems. If eating becomes a primary coping mechanism in the face of stress, or feeling upset, exhausted, or bored, a person risks beginning an unhealthy cycle that does not address these underlying feelings. Emotional eating may interfere with making healthy food choices and ultimately lead to weight gain.
Everyone eats for reasons other than hunger once in a while. If this happens regularly and in response to negative emotions, it may be a sign of emotional eating. Indicators can include frequently eating when not hungry or changing one's eating habits during difficult or stressful times. Often, people develop feelings of guilt after eating under these circumstances, and this can lead to more eating. If this behavior becomes increasingly commonplace, the person may have a problem that needs to be addressed. Another sign of emotional eating is weight gain; many people with this mental health condition are overweight.
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