I never have viewed myself as an emotional eater. Sure, I am one of those people who eats out of boredom, but I have never really considered that emotional eating. The term "emotional eating" evokes an image in my mind of a woman crying and eating an entire pint of ice cream. However, as much as I think this, it is not always the case.
1. It is still emotional eating even if it is not comfort food.
Once, I read an article that said one way to tell if you are an emotional eater is that you only crave "fatty foods or sugary snacks." For me, that is rarely the case. I will eat a salad out of boredom. If I feel nervous, I will eat a piece of wheat toast. Vegetables may sound equally as good as ice cream.
2. It is still emotional eating even if it isn't sadness, anger, stress, etc.
"Emotional eating" is not a very precise term; the colloquial "eating your feelings" may actually apply better. Boredom is an emotion, but I also eat when I am feeling sick. If I have a stomach ache, headache or even the flu, I always think some sort of eating or drinking will help. That article on emotional eating said that you are eating to fill a void. Emotional eating is also not always caused by negative emotions; you can eat because you are happy too.
This brings me to why I can tell I am an emotional eater and what emotional eating really is.
1. You believe a moment or state will be made better by food.
You can be very happy, but feel as if a moment could be made better by food. If I am having fun, I will often think about how the only way this moment could be better was if there was food which leads me to get some food. This is fine if I haven't already eaten, but usually I already have. I think food is the cure for everything--not just emotional; I think food might make me less tired or cure a cold by give me a nutrient I am lacking.
2. You believe you deserve food!
This was how I officially decided I am an emotional eater. I constantly justify what I am eating. Yesterday, I ate an entire bag of salted caramels but I deserved them because I had sunburn. In actuality, the emotion I was feeling was uncomfortable and the caramels took my focus away from that. I have never thought I was an emotional eater because I was focusing on the deserving part and not the emotional part (I told myself deserved them for an situation I didn't choose not an emotion). Justifying food goes much further than this. Some excuses are more valid than others; I am okay with things like "I ate a lot but it is fairly healthy." However, I will go as far to say, "I deserve a rootbeer because we could all die at any minute and it would suck if I had denied myself happiness for my last moments."
After all is said and done, I love food and I am not one who thinks you should deny yourself the happiness that comes from food. I will probably still say that I want (but don't deserve) a doughnut because we could all die any moment now. Instead, what I hope to get from my realization is to stop eating out of boredom and to be more selective about the times I treat myself.