10 Best Tips To Control Emotional Eating
Why We Do It and How To Stop It
Many of us have experienced emotional eating at some point in our lives, it’s more common than we think. Emotional eating is using food to make yourself feel better—to fill emotional needs, rather than your stomach. Turning to food for comfort, stress relief, or to reward ourselves can wreak havoc on our waistlines not to mention the emotional guilt we feel afterwards. This is because when we do, we tend to reach for junk food, sweets, and other comforting but unhealthy foods. I’ve never heard of anyone binging on carrot sticks or cucumbers! If only this was the case!
Instead of eating food to satisfy physical hunger, many of us have reached for a tub of ice cream when we’ve been feeling down, ordered take away when we’ve been bored or lonely, or swung past the drive-through after a stressful day at work. So how do you know if you’re a emotional eater? If you answer yes to any of the below questions you’re an emotional eater.
- Do you often feel guilty or ashamed after eating?
- Do you often eat alone or at odd locations, such as parked in your car outside your own house?
- After an unpleasant experience, such as an argument, do you eat even if you aren’t feeling hungry?
- Do you crave specific foods when you’re upset, such as chocolate or chips?
- Do you feel the urge to eat in response to outside cues like seeing food advertised on television?
- Do you eat because you feel bored?
- Does eating make you feel better when you’re down or less focused on problems when you’re worried about something?
Differences between emotional hunger and physical hunger
Emotional hunger comes on suddenly.It hits you in an instant and feels overwhelming and urgent.
Physical hunger, on the other hand, comes on more gradually. The urge to eat doesn’t feel as dire or demand instant satisfaction (unless you haven’t eaten for a very long time).
Emotional hunger craves specific comfort foods like junk food or sugary snacks that provide an instant rush. You feel like you need cheesecake or pizza, and nothing else will do.
Physical hunger will usually be satisfied with healthy choices such as vegetables and the like.
Emotional hunger often leads to mindless eating. Before you know it, you’ve eaten a whole bag of chips or an entire pint of ice cream without really paying attention or fully enjoying it.
When you’re eating in response to physical hunger, you’re typically more aware of what you’re doing.
Emotional hunger isn’t satisfied once you’re full. You keep wanting more and more, often eating until you’re uncomfortably stuffed. Physical hunger, on the other hand, doesn’t need to be stuffed. You feel satisfied when your stomach is full.
Emotional hunger often leads to regret, guilt, or shame. When you eat to satisfy physical hunger, you’re unlikely to feel guilty or ashamed because you’re simply giving your body what it needs. If you feel guilty after you eat, it’s likely because you know deep down that you’re not eating for nutritional reasons.
10 Effective Ways To Control Emotional Eating
Make daily exercise a priority: Some people find relief in getting regular exercise. A walk or jog around the block or a quickie yoga routine may help in particularly emotional moments.
Aim for 8 hours of sleep every night: lack of sleep plays havoc with your appetite-regulating hormones and will cause you to be extra hungry and crave carbohydrates and high fat foods. There is also research suggesting that a lack of sleep can predispose us to emotional eating, so aim for 8 hour sleep and you may want to take magnesium before you go to bed. Magnesium helpsthis process by regulating the neurotransmitters and ultimately calming your nervous system in readiness for sleep. It also works alongside melatonin—a hormone your body produces naturally—to control your body clock and sleep-wake cycles
Make time for relaxation: Meditation may also help you become more mindful of food choices. With practice, you may be able to pay better attention to the impulse to grab a fat- and sugar-loaded comfort food and inhibit the impulse. Simple deep breathing is meditation that you can do almost anywhere. Sit in a quiet space and focus on your breath — slowly flowing in and out of your nostrils.
Plan your meals: Do meal prep on the weekend, another reason you may be ordering takeaway is because you don’t have anything ready in the fridge.
Never skip breakfast : People who skip breakfast experience elevated levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. If you’re someone who gets stressed easily, it might be a good idea to eat regular meals throughout the day — including breakfast.
Out of sight out of mind: When you do your grocery shopping don’t buy junk food. Most likely if you don’t have junk food in your pantry you won’t eat it. If you like chocolate buy dates or fruits instead.
Set a goal or have a vision: Set yourself a weekly or monthly goal. Do a 6 week or 12 week challenge in your local gym or online. Do these challenges with your friend or family member if you can, you will have emotional support and you can talk to that person when you feel down or not motivated.
Connect with others: Don’t underestimate the importance of close relationships and social activities. Spending time with positive people who enhance your life will help protect you from the negative effects of stress.
Practice mindful eating: Eating while you’re also doing other things—such as watching TV, driving, or playing with your phone—can prevent you from fully enjoying your food. Since your mind is elsewhere, you may not feel satisfied or continue eating even though you’re no longer hungry. Eating more mindfully can help focus your mind on your food and the pleasure of a meal and curb overeating.
If you’re bored: Why not meal prep, read a good book, watch a movie (remember not to snack while doing this), go for a walk or phone a friend.
Emotional eating doesn’t have to be something we do every other day, with the right mindset and by following those easy tips you should have it under control in no time. If you need help getting rid of those unwanted kilos then why not contact me at email@example.com, I’ll be more than happy to help you.