Too often we eat for reasons other than hunger. We may eat when feeling stressed or needing comfort or we may see food as a reward. Eating our emotions rather than dealing with them, does not fix problem and may even complicate things. If eating becomes a way to cope emotionally, the real problems may never be addressed and our health may suffer. Emotional eating has nothing to do with your body’s need for nourishment and often results in poor food choices. Emotional hunger cannot be satisfied with food. Eating may initially provide a feeling of comfort, but that too often is followed by guilt and self-loathing, which is followed by more eating and so on.
If you reach for chocolate or salty treats when you are down or stressed; if you eat when you are bored or feeling unsettled; if you eat when you are not hungry; then you may be an emotional eater.
To reduce emotional eating try implementing the following:
Become aware of the triggers for your emotional eating. Awareness is the first step to change. When you find yourself indulging in emotional eating, you may want to jot down how you are feeling and what is or has been happening. Doing this for a while will help you to identify patterns and learn about the triggers for your emotional eating.
Stop, walk and drink. When a craving hits you, experiment with grabbing your water bottle and going for a short walk. Do not tell yourself that you cannot give in to your craving. Just tell yourself that you are going to do this first. As you are walking, try to be mindful of the day, the walk and also of your feelings. Tell yourself that it is okay to feel however you feel and that it makes sense that you would feel that way. Who knows, perhaps the craving will pass by the time you are finished your walk.
Find another way to sooth yourself. You could write out your feeling, talk them out with a friend, distract yourself or snuggle up with a warm blanket and a book. Find some alternative that works for you.
Develop healthy habits. Get enough sleep, move your body regularly, eat well, drink plenty of water and find ways to interact with positive people. Being well rested and feeling healthy and supported can make it much easier to say no to emotional eating.