How to stop emotional eating?
Emotional eating can be described as a quite common short-term-relief defense mechanism that aims at soothing stress, anxiety, boredom and other negative feelings through overconsumption of calorie-packed sweet and fatty ‘comfort’ food. It’s not a normal response to physical hunger; rather an impulsive reaction that triggers a vicious cycle of cravings, overeating, instant gratification, guilt, embarrassment, insecurities, and possibly eating disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia. Gradually you are losing control over your feelings, your habits, and your body weight. Then it’s time to take action against your worst enemy!
Realize the differences between emotional and physical hunger
Emotional hunger, caused by some sort of distress, is an impulse that dictates you to literally gobble till you drop foods your brain translates as attractive in terms of texture, smell and taste, offering pleasure or convenience that soon deflates and turns into regret. By contrast, physical hunger comes slowly and consciously as a purely nutritional, physical need.
Recognize the causes
Another great tip on how to stop emotional eating is to recognize the cause. Organically, emotional hunger can be explained by high levels of a stress hormone called cortisol that urges you to indulge into sugary, salty and fatty foods instantly boosting energy and mood. Feeling stronger for the moment might deceivingly conceal anger, fear, sadness or anxiety related to financial woes, work stress, relationship conflicts or fatigue. Identify the problems and build up a customized method to deal with them. It’s a thought process. Some issues are overwhelming and unique, while others are caused by repeating mistakes. Self-awareness will help you a lot in tracing the gaps in your life. Sometimes overeating is a nostalgic nod to happier times around a table with abundant food and smiles. Other times, you nervously overeat during socially awkward situations or within circles that encourage this ‘abuse’. You might even be struck by boredom, and need to find a compelling mission. In all cases, stay connected with your current personal necessities.
Maintain a food-and-mood diary
Keep track of your problematic behavior in great detail to discover its pattern and triggers, it’s a great tip on how to stop emotional eating, as it can help you identify your weak moments, the evil foods, the reasons, the feelings and the situations involved. Draw an emotional chart for each one of your daily binges. It’s step one before actually substituting those with healthier reactions.
Find safer alternatives to excessive food
Burgers, doughnuts and brownies are not the only means to ‘happiness’. You can also talk to a friend, play with your dog, go through a fashion magazine, watch a comedy, or take a zen bath! Dance, music, and any sort of motion can relieve your anxiety. A warm blanket, a sweet and relaxing perfume, or just a beautiful setting might ultimately offer you way more comfort than guilty food.
Take a small break to process your craving
You need to delay the actual eating as much as possible. Gain some time – even 5 minutes – to rethink your urge, reassess the conditions, and rationalize your need. Pause a bit and ponder over your possible alternatives. You might end up with a healthier decision this time, or at least with some ‘food for thought’ until your next craving. To further extend this tiny period of introspection, keep your fridge sin-free and put off your next visit to the supermarket. Stay away from temptations; do not bring them home!
How to stop emotional eating? Do not silence your emotions!
Accepting even the most disturbing ones as part of your inner world, you might ultimately keep them in check. Battle your worst fears and frustrations using your brightest side. You need to be conscious of all things that stress you out. Do not bypass hard feelings; just analyze them. What makes you sad will light up the way for what makes you happy!
Adopt healthier lifestyle habits
Make a lasting commitment to routines that establish a balance between mind and body. Physical activity, Yoga, meditation, relaxation and proper breathing techniques ensure stress-control and better metabolism. Gradually you might also cure any sleeping disorders that are closely connected to weight gain. Lack of sleep affects the levels of two crucial hormones in your body: ghrelin which stimulates appetite and leptin that signals your brain when you are full. But beyond good and adequate sleep, you also need regular naps and chances to decompress in between your busy schedule. Food-wise, just experiment with lower-calorie tasty alternatives. Finally, invest in valuable friendships that lift your spirits.
Don’t deprive yourself
Next good tip on how to stop emotional eating is to avoid depriving yourself. Emotional eating is sometimes triggered by harsh, monolithic diet regimes that create a shortage of pleasure and feelings of deprivation, soon to be healed through overeating. Avoid exaggerations when on diet and keep a variety in your menu.
Do not punish yourself
Every time you succumb to emotional hunger, think of it as a chance to learn from your mistakes and go on. Keep a positive stance and focus on signs of improvement. Self-compassion and patience are keys to success. Don’t forget to reward your good efforts with a small non-edible gift or treat.
Resort to professional help
When nothing really works by itself, therapists are always there to counsel you. And why not join a support group too?
How to stop emotional eating? What are your best tips?
Stay happy and healthy!