How to overcome emotional eating

The diet industry has taken advantage of women for so long, it seems as though every few months there’s a new hot diet to try.

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Sometimes we eat just for the sake of eating…and not because we’re hungry. Sometimes we reach for food to comfort us or as a reward. Unfortunately, emotional eating doesn’t solve your problems – more than likely, it’s just adding calories to your waistline which leaves you feeling guilty afterwards. Emotional eating is just an attempt at filling your emotional needs rather than filling up your belly.

Eating may seem like the logical thing to do at the moment but chances are that you will feel worse after you eat because of the calories that you consumed…not to mention you’ll probably be beating yourself up for not having the willpower to “just say no“. Once this cycle begins, it can be tough to stop, and your weight may become harder and harder to control leaving you powerless over both food and your emotions.

How To Tell If You’re Emotional Eating

Do you eat more when you’re stressed out?
Do you eat when you’re not even hungry? Out of boredom?
Do you feel out of control around food?
Do you keep eating until you are completely stuffed?
Do you eat to feel better?

Difference Between Physical Hunger and Emotional Hunger

Before you can break free from the cycle of emotional eating, you need to understand the difference between emotional and physical hunger:

  • Emotional hunger usually comes on suddenly – Physical hunger comes on gradually with belly growls.
  • When you’re physically hungry, any type of food sounds good just as long as you make your belly happy. With emotional hunger, you’re likely to crave comfort foods.
  • When you eat for physical hunger, usually you will stop when you’re full however, emotional hunger isn’t satisfied with a full stomach. Generally you will just keep eating and eating until you can’t eat anymore.
  • Eating out of physical hunger doesn’t make you feel guilty because you’re satisfying one of your most basic needs. Emotional eating usually triggers feelings of guilt and shame.

How to Overcome Emotional Eating

Identify personal triggers: Think about what situations, places or feelings make you reach for food. Common causes of emotional eating include: stress, boredom, anger, sadness, loneliness and social influences. One of the best ways to identify emotional eating patterns is to keep track with a journal or diary. Keep track of each time you feel the urge to overeat, how you’re feeling at that moment, what you ate, how you felt after you ate, etc…Over time, you will see patterns in your eating habits. Maybe you overeat when you get stressed out at work or perhaps you overeat when you’re alone. Once you identify your triggers, you can start finding ways to deal with your feelings in a more healthy manner.

Finding healthier ways to deal with your feelings: Once you know what triggers you to overeat, you can concentrate of finding alternatives to emotional eating. If you’re bored, consider watching a good movie, reading a good book or doing a bit of gardening. If you’re feeling lonely, call a friend a have a good chat. If you’re anxious, use your energy by going for a brisk walk. If you’re tired, take a nap or relax in a nice hot bath.

When a craving hit you – STOP everything!: If you suddenly feel the urge to overeat, take 5 minutes to analyze why you feel this way. Normally, emotional eating is mindless – we don’t even think about it before we’re half way through that bag of chips. When you feel the need to grab something, taking a few minutes to pause and reflect will give you the opportunity to make a better decision.

Adopt healthy lifestyle choices: When you’re well rested and in better shape physically, you can handle curve balls that life has a funny way of throwing at you. However if you feel overwhelmed and you are exhausted, anything has the potential to catch you off guard and send you marching into the kitchen cupboard. Make exercise, healthy eating and sleep a priority – changing your lifestyle is a sure fire way to avoid emotional eating.

Emotional eating is a powerful way to find temporary relief from the challenges that we face on a daily basis. You will only be able to address this problem if you make a commitment to reach deep inside yourself to find strength and hopefully the tips above can assist you with breaking your emotional eating cycle.