Relationship problems and emotional eating are heavily intertwined for many people. Feelings of anger, loneliness, boredom, sadness, fear, stress and anxiety are often catalysts for reaching for food. A sugary snack, a salty bag of chips, an extra meal when not hungry may feel like an easy escape from uncomfortable emotions.
Conflict in Relationships
A relationship filled with conflict creates extra stress, anger and anxiety. Constant fighting and lack of harmony may create racing thoughts and a feeling of continual unease. When your mind is running through arguments, rehearsing what to say next with total unawareness of the body’s needs, you may reach for food as an automatic way of feeling better. Because your mind is preoccupied, you may not be paying attention to whether you are hungry or not. It is even possible during these times to eat large numbers of calories without enjoying any of the food.
Absence of a Relationship
Another trigger for emotional eating is loneliness. If you are a lonely person who does not have many friends, and is yearning for a loving relationship, you may try to fill the emotional void through food. Food tastes good and brings enjoyment. Eating during these times offers a temporary mood enhancer. The problem is that once the moment has passed, extra calories have been consumed and the loneliness persists.
Ending a Relationship
Break-ups can lead to emotional eating. A woman who has just been dumped sitting at home on a Friday night with a gallon of chocolate ice cream is not an uncommon image in movies. Feelings of loss, sadness, and low self-esteem may lead you to seek temporary relief in sweets or high-fat foods.
Boredom in a Relationship
Boredom is another cause of emotional eating. Sometimes married couples who have run out of things to say to one another after decades of marriage find themselves in this predicament. Their time together consists of conversations about what to eat, when to eat and where to eat. Their enjoyment of each other is intertwined with eating. Food provides the temporary excitement that they are seeking and missing in their relationship.
Remedies for Emotional Eating
The best remedy for overcoming emotional eating with regards to relationship issues is getting to the core of the emotions. When noticing a craving, you might ask yourself if you are truly hungry. You may realize that you ate just a few minutes ago and are not actually hungry but are feeling sad, angry or stressed.
Experts also recommend keeping a food diary. Writing down a list of everything you eat and the time you eat it helps to detect patterns. If every time you hang up the phone with a difficult person you find yourself reaching for chocolate, making that connection will help you to hold off on the chocolate and let those emotions pass.
Stress-management techniques such as meditation, yoga, visualization, and exercise are also useful ways to curb emotional eating. These activities help you to feel in touch with your emotions and help to relax both your body and your mind. In doing so, they reduce the amount of stress and negative emotions that trigger you to reach for food when you are not hungry.