Emotional Eaters Definition Approximately 75% of overeating is caused by emotions (Armitage and Conner 102). An eating disorder is when a person consumes large quantities of food in response to feelings and not hunger. Examples of these psychological feelings are anxiety, depression, loneliness, anger, stress and boredom. Stress has a big effect on a person's food intake because they fail to distinguish between anxiety and hunger (Armitage and Conner 104).
There are two hypotheses linking stress and eating: general effect model and individual difference model. The general effect model demonstrates that stress changes food intake (Ogden 240). This model does not have concrete evidence because studies haven been done on animals. The individual difference model predicts that stress only causes changes in eating in vulnerable groups of individuals (Ogden 240).
This model focuses on varying groups, for instance; obese and non-obese and women and men. When dealing with stress, women seem to intake more food than men. Obese had a higher intake of food because mentally they have not differentiated anxiety from hunger. Relationships to other variables There are two other eating behaviors that deal with psychological feelings such as self image and the fear of gaining weight. These behaviors are Anorexia nervosa and Bulimia nervosa. An estimated 0.5 to 3.7 percent of females suffer from anorexia nervosa in their lifetime (Psych Central - Anorexia).
Anorexia nervosa is when a person does not consume any food or little as possible. The person has an intense fear of gaining weight. When someone is dealing with being anorexic they become obsessed with the process of eating (Psych Central - Anorexia), which means they are very picky with what they choose to eat and counting calories. An estimated 1.1 to 4.2 percent of females have Bulimia nervosa in their lifetime (Psych Central - Bulimia).
A person who binges and purges when finished their meal are known as bulimics. This behavior is done in secrecy because the person feels ashamed of their behavior. These two behaviors are related to having an overall eating behavior because negative emotions and images have an effect on food intake, whether the intake is small or large. Eating becomes a habit preventing us from learning skills that can effectively resolve our emotional distress (Cleveland Clinic). To break this habit, the trigger must be identified so it can be substituted with another past time.
These are the five eating triggers: Social- excessive eating can result from being encouraged by others to eat. Emotional- eating in response to boredom, stress, and depression to fill the "void". Situational- opportunity is there to eat, for example; watching the television. Thoughts- result of negative self-worth and making excuses Physiological- response to physical cues, for example; eating to cure headaches.
Once the trigger is identified, the urge to eat has to be alternated with a physical activity. Physical activities could be walking, reading a book and talking to a friend. Treatments Treatment varies among which eating behavior a person is dealing with. As noted before, a trigger must be identified in order to come up with a way to prevent overeating.
There are many activities to fill the void and not be reliant on food. A person, who is anorexic or bulimic, must deal with the negative image within them. Support groups, medications and hospitalization are available for treatment.