What is Your Eating Personality?
The Major Eater Types
The stress eater eats to relieve or avoid uncomfortable feelings. Food functions as a self-medication to relieve stress and lift mood. There’s a connection between mood, food and weight management. When we’re stressed, the hormones it unleashes, and the effects of high-fat, sugary "comfort foods" push people toward overeating. Researchers have linked weight gain to stress. In the short term, stress can shut down appetite. When we’re stressed the adrenal glands pump out the hormone adrenaline, which helps trigger the body's fight-or-flight response, and release the hormone cortisol, which increases appetite. Once a stressful episode is over, cortisol levels should fall, but if the stress doesn't go away — or if a person's stress response gets stuck in the "on" position — cortisol may stay elevated.
In other words, emotional eating is using food to make yourself feel better—eating to satisfy emotional needs, rather than to satisfy physical hunger. You might reach for a BIG BURGER when you want to celebrate a promotion, order a pizza if you’re bored or lonely, or swing by the drive-through after a stressful day at work.
Occasionally using food as a pick me up, a reward, or to celebrate isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But when eating is your primary emotional coping mechanism—when your first impulse is to open the refrigerator whenever you’re stressed, upset, angry, lonely, exhausted, or bored—you get stuck in an unhealthy cycle where the real feeling or problem is never addressed.
Emotional hunger can’t be filled with food. Eating may feel good in the moment, but the feelings that triggered the eating are still there. And you often feel worse than you did before because of the unnecessary calories you’ve just consumed.
The ideal eater, of course, exists only in the abstract. Yes the description can serve as a baseline against which we can measure our own eating habits. You may be more than one type. Recognize your own tendencies so you can spot problems and create new behaviours to achieve your wellness and weight management goals.