How To Handle Emotional Eating
Emotional eating means turning to food based on how you feel, mostly for comfort unfortunately not because you are hungry. That bag of potato chips and those chocolate chip cookies may provide short-term relief when you’re feeling bored, lonely, anxious, frustrated, depressed, angry, or stressed. But emotional eating can also lead to overeating and unwanted weight gain. It has been said that 75% of overeating is a response to emotions.
This all sounds terrible right, well there is so good news to fighting this. You can learn ways to cope with or manage those feelings so you don’t cave into the unhealthy foods when you are faced with those emotions.
Identify Your Eating Triggers
As a trainer this is one of the touching points I start with all my clients. When you know what situations and emotions prompt you to eat, you can come up with ways to steer clear of those traps. These “food triggers” will typically fall into five main categories.
Social: Eating around others and picking and choosing the same options as to fit in
Emotional: Eating when you feel sad or depressed, or when the sense of loneliness sets in
Thoughts: Eating when you feel that you are not good enough
Situational: Eating when the opportunity permits it. Parties or events, you may not be hungry but the food is in front of you. I have also heard people eat when you do certain events or certain places.
Physiological: Eating when your body tells you “you are hungry” often fake signals trying to trigger something else.
Start a Food Diary – keep it close. Some of my clients have used the Notes App on the iPhone. This is to help find out what feelings you are having at the specific time and how you satisfy them. This can often be journaled by stressors, thoughts, or emotions you experience.
How to Stop Emotional Eating
The Food diary is now become an habit and you are seeing a recurrence of certain emotions or stressors, now we must combat them. To break these habits we have to fill them with something else. These are a few activities you can try to break these habits:
- Talk to a friend.
- Go for a walk or jog.
- Do deep breathing exercises.
- Wash the car
- Go play with kids
- Play cards or a board game.
- Take a bubble bath.
- Do chores around the house
- Read a good book or magazine, or listen to music.
- Grab board game
- Write a letter. (crazy I know)
- Do any other pleasurable or necessary activity until the urge to eat passes.
When you do try most of the things above or some of your own you thought of it may not be enough. I would them you try deep meditation/breathing exercises or counseling, or talk to your doctor to see what resources and techniques they recommend to help you cope with emotional stress. When you learn to practice better coping methods you start to feel that you are starting to see improvements with the emotional eating it is very important that you try to reward yourself with positive encouragement and a pat on your back!