Your strongest food cravings hit when you are at your weakest or lowest point emotionally. Emotional eating is reaching for food as a way to suppress or soothe negative emotions such as stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness and loneliness. Some people do it consciously and others unconsciously and end up triggering negative emotions that lead to eating, which disrupts your weight loss efforts.
Your emotions can become so tied to your eating habits that you automatically reach for food whenever you feel any of the aforementioned emotions. Whatever emotions drive you to react in this way, the end result is often the same.
The soothing effect is temporary, the emotions return and you then bear the additional burden of guilt about setting back your weight-loss goals.
The good news is that if you are prone to emotional eating, you can take steps to regain control of your eating habits. To help stop emotional eating, try these tips;
- Tame your stress
Try various stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation and deep breathing once in a while to calm your nerves and anxiety. This will gradually help you to have a solid control over your emotions.
2. Keep a food diary
However lame and tiresome this sounds, it will come in really handy. Write down what you eat, the amount, how you feel when you eat and how hungry you were when you opted to give into the feeling. Through this you can be able to identify your triggers and pattern and help you manage your emotional eating tendencies.
3. Get support
If you cannot handle the pressure, you do not have to walk the journey alone. Lean on family and friends or even consider joining a support group. Here you will share what you feel and learn from other peoples experiences and challenges. Therapy is also advisable if all else fails.
4. Fight boredom
Try to substitute that feeling of ennui with a healthier behavior such as taking a walk, watching a movie, listening to music, reading or calling a friend. The Japanese actually have a word to describe something similar- Kuchisabishii'.
Kuchisabishii is a Japanese word that literally means 'lonely mouth' or 'longing to have or put something in one's mouth' and could explain why some people eat without really paying mind to the act.
5. Have hunger reality check
Be keen to learn if your hunger is physical or emotional. Give the craving time to pass if you feel the urge to eat again just after eating a few hours ago. Experts recommend eating every three to five hours.
6. Snack healthy
If the urge pops up, choose a healthy snack such as fresh fruit, vegetables with low-fat, nuts or unbuttered popcorns. You can also try a calorie version of your favorite foods to see if they satisfy your craving.
7.Learn from the setbacks
If you have had an episode of emotional eating amidst your correction journey, forgive yourself and start a fresh the next day. Focus on the positive changes you are making in your habits and give yourself credit where it's due.
When to seek help
If you have tried self-help options but you still cannot control emotional eating, consider therapy with a mental health professional. It can help you understand why you eat emotionally and learn better and suitable coping skills. Therapy can also help you discover whether you have an eating disorder, which can be connected to emotional eating.
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