We love to stuff our faces. Or at least I love stuffing my face. So, as we are celebrating America's birthday today by consuming gluttonous amounts of food, what I wanted to know was, "Am I an emotional eater?"

It's Sudden and Immediate

You're hard at work typing up a projection, proposal or TPS Report and then out of nowhere, BAM! You need a triple scoop of whatever is on special at Cold Stone Creamery and you need it RIGHT NOW. You weren't particularly hungry two minutes ago, but right now you just need something - anything or else you're going to tear someone's head off.

It's Particular

You must have a large thincredible pizza at Zaffiro's. Sausage and mushroom to be exact. Maybe adding in some extra cheese wouldn't hurt, but it needs to be Zaffiro's. Nothing else will do.

You're Full

You've already eaten two helpings of whatever it is you had for dinner, but you just keep eating. You're not hungry, but you just want food.

You Feel Guilty

You just downed a big mac extra value meal with a strawberry milkshake, plus a snack wrap of some sorts and a smore pie. You can't even look at yourself in the mirror and looking at the wrappers and bags on the floor of your car make you want to cry.

These are the signs of emotional eating. So, why do we do it?

There could be certain situations that make you want to eat. Whether it's a negative encounter with someone, a low self esteem issue, a comment that someone made, an argument or just plain old stress and frustration that could be making you want to eat. If you feel like you must-eat-right-this-very-second-or-I'm-going-to-flip-out-even-though-I'm-not-hungry, it's because emotional hunger comes on suddenly, whereas physical hunger happens gradually. Emotional hunger can't wait. Physical hunger can.

If you're craving something in particular, this means you're eating to fill a void of some sort. Maybe your kids are grown up and gone and don't call as much as they used to. Maybe you feel like your husband isn't paying as much attention to you as you think he should and only that particular food is going to fill that craving for whatever you feel you are lacking. Same goes for eating even if you're already full and feeling guilty after a meal. You're eating to feed feelings, not to feed your body.

So, how do you knock it off?

Identifying your triggers is one way to recognize why you're an emotional eater. Keeping a food journal is a great way to keep track of what you eat, but also write down what happened before you ate. When you have a trigger, drink a big glass of water and then try taking a walk (NOT to the vending machine), calling a friend, taking a nap or cleaning. Just try and occupy yourself so you can take your mind off of eating.

Sometimes taking your mind off of it just seems to make you want it more. If that's the case, try doing yoga or a relaxation exercise like meditation and if it gets too bad and you can't control it, seek help. There's no shame in it. I was a very heavy drinker. I drank when I was happy, I drank when I was sad. I drank when I was mad and I drank when I was bored. I tried controlling it, but I couldn't, so I sought help. You're not a weak person if you find that you need to pick up the phone and ask someone for a hand. It was one of the best decisions I ever made and I'm stronger for it.