How to stop emotional eating
Have you ever noticed that your strongest craving to eat often happens when you’re at your weakest point emotionally? If so, you may be an emotional eater. Of course we all turn to comfort foods from time to time (soup when you’re fighting a cold, ice cream when you’re struggling with a break up, an extra helping of chips and dip when your football team loses), but if you’re using food to consistently distract you from your feelings, you need to find a new way to deal with your emotions. To help you stop emotional eating, here are five tips to help you stop feeding your feelings.
Create a Food Diary
Emotional eating is tough to spot because most of us do it without even being aware of our actions. Keep a food diary that simply lists what you’re eating and how you felt before and after you ate. Do this for just a few days and you’ll start to see the connection between your feelings and what you’re choosing at meal and snack times. This is the first step towards conquering mindless munching.
Hold Still & Listen to Yourself
If you feel the need to head to the fridge, stop. Wait five minutes to see if you’re actually hungry, or if you just want to distract yourself from your feelings. As you’re waiting, connect with yourself by noticing how you’re feeling at the moment. If you wait for five minutes and decide you’re not actually hungry, but just angry at your husband for not helping you with the dishes, wait till dinner. You’ll look forward to dinner even more, and be able to try out our next tip.
Express Your Emotions
Part of the reason we emotionally eat is because many of us are uncomfortable expressing ourselves. Instead of speaking our mind, we share a piece of coffee cake with someone (or ourselves). The next time you feel hurt, ignored or misheard, try this genius idea: talk about it! Tell the person how you’re feeling and try your best to express yourself without being accusatory (often the person who made you feel bad is unaware of their actions). Do this and you’ll not only be one step closer to curbing emotional eating, but you’ll be building confidence in yourself as well.
Retrain Your Patterns
If you head to the frozen yogurt place down the street every Monday evening after a stressful start to your work week, find a new, healthier option. If Mondays make you stressed, try looking into a spin class at your gym that night. The exercise will help you drop all that angst you’re feeling while you drop some weight all at once! Start to become aware of the different patterns you rely on to make you feel safe or happy. If they’re healthy patterns, keep them! If they’re not-so-healthy, find a better option.
Finally, once you’ve started to become aware of your emotions, habits and patterns, start to take a look at what you’ve been putting in your body. If you’re just filling up on chips and candy without thinking about what you’re actually eating, then you are missing out on some vital nutrients. Your body needs protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and small doses of healthy fats (found in salmon and peanut butter) every day. Choose to eat more nutritious food and you will soon feel more balanced (both physically and emotionally).