10 Tips On How To Control Emotional Eating!

10 Tips On How To Control Emotional Eating!

You might have gained those extra pounds and not known why?

Around 40% of those seeking weight loss treatments can be clinically diagnosed with eating disorders as per BEDA, Binge Eating Disorder Association.

Do you eat to feel better or relieve stress?

Read ahead to know how to fight cravings, identify your triggers, stop emotional eating and find better ways to satisfy your feelings.

What is emotional eating?

We don’t always eat to satisfy our physical hunger. Many a times we eat out of feelings such as boredom, anxiety, stress or even to celebrate or reward ourselves. And, whenever that happens we tend to choose junk foods, sweets or other comforting but unhealthy foods. Has it happened any time that you end up ordering a pizza or a tub of ice cream simply because you are feeling low or are just alone and bored?

This leads to emotional eating, where in we are using food to make yourself feel better, i.e to fill your emotional needs rather than your stomach!

Sadly emotional eating doesn’t fix your problems instead it usually makes you feel worse. Reason being your original emotional issue remains as it is, plus you end up feeling guilty about overeating as well.

Physical Hunger vs Emotional Hunger

Emotional hunger can’t be filled with food, eating may make you feel good momentarily, but the feeling that triggered the eating still prevails.

This further makes you feel powerless over both food and your feelings. However it is important to make positive changes and adapt to healthier ways of dealing with emotions, conquer cravings, identify triggers, and finally put a full stop to emotional eating.

Emotional hunger can be very powerful, hence it is necessary that we learn to distinguish it from physical hunger.

Physical HungerEmotional Hunger
Physical hunger comes graduallyEmotional hunger comes on sudden
Physical hunger doesn’t make you feel bad or trigger any guiltEmotional hunger makes you feel guilty, powerless
Physical hunger can waitEmotional hunger needs to be satisfied immediately
Physical hunger is open to a lot of food optionsEmotional hunger craves specific comfort foods

Emotional eating triggers

Emotional eating is eating as a way to suppress or soothe negative emotions, such as stress, fear, boredom, anger, sadness and loneliness.The first step to stop emotional eating to identify the trigger and stop it.

 These triggers might include:

  • Boredom: Do you ever eat simply to give yourself something to do, to relieve boredom. In the moment, it fills you up and distracts you from underlying feelings of purposelessness and dissatisfaction with your life.
  • Hoarding emotions: Eating can be a way to temporarily silence discomforting emotions such as anger, fear, sadness, anxiety, loneliness. While stuffing yourself with food, you can avoid the difficult emotions you’d rather not feel.
  • Childhood habits : Did your parents reward good behavior with ice cream, take you out for favourite food when you got a good report card, or serve you sweets when you were feeling sad? Some of these habits can get carried over to adulthood and become a trigger.
  • Health problems, fatigue, financial issues, relationship conflicts, work life pressures can also act like triggers and further lead to emotional eating.

Ways to help stop emotional eating:

1. Support yourself with healthy lifestyle habits:

  • Aim for 8 hours of sleep every night.
  • Make exercise a daily priority
  • Take a break from your responsibilities and make time for yourself
  • Socialize and connect with positive people

2.  Keep an emotional eating diary: Write down what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, how you’re feeling when you eat and how hungry you are. Over a period of time, you will see patterns that reveal the connection between mood and food.

3.  Fight boredom. Every time you snack due to boredom and you know that you’re not hungry, distract yourself and substitute a healthier behaviour. Go for a walk or a run, watch a movie, play with your pet, listen to music, read, surf the internet or call a friend.

4. Have a hunger check?  Check whether your hunger is really physical hunger or emotional? In case you have eaten just few hours ago and your stomach is not rumbling, then probably your hunger is going to lead to emotional eating. Give time for the craving to pass.

5. Manage your stress: If stress contributes to your emotional eating habits, then consider some stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation etc. Learn to accept your feelings, even the bad ones. Become more mindful and learn to stay connected with your moment to moment emotional experience.

6. Don’t deprive your feelings: Many a times people trying to lose weight end up restricting their body with some calories, completely banish treats, and go on some strict diets. This may lead to severe food cravings, and have a great impact on their emotions. Hence one should eat plenty of healthier foods, and even enjoy some occasional treats. This may help you curb your cravings and achieve your weight loss goals.

7. Practice mindful eating: Eating while you are doing other things such as watching TV, driving, or playing on the phone- can prevent you from fully enjoying your meal. Since your mind is distracted, you may not feel satisfied and continue eating even if you’re no longer hungry. Eating mindfully can help you focus on your food and curb over eating.

8. Pause when cravings hit you, check with yourself: Take a moment to pause and reflect when you’re hit with a craving, you give yourself the opportunity to make a different decision.

9. Snack healthy: If you feel the urge to eat between meals, choose a healthy snack, such as fresh fruits, seeds, nuts or unbuttered popcorn or fox nuts. Or try lower calorie versions of your favourite foods to see if they satisfy your craving.

10. Seek professional help: If you’ve tried self-help options but you still can’t control emotional eating, consider therapy with a mental health professional. Therapy can help you understand why you eat emotionally and learn coping skills.

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