Stress is something no one can avoid. It’s everywhere. Some of us reach to toxins like alcohol or drugs but some reach to food to heal the pain. Learning how to control emotional eating is not only gaining control over our emotions but also our habits.
Food is delicious, yes. Sometimes we treat ourselves to something delicious for job well done. Some of us can’t wait to crack the Tomato Soup for that comfortable feeling of yesteryear.
Whatever the reason we turn to food other than sustenance needs to be explored.
We should first explore what emotional eating really is to better understand what we are dealing with, and how to decipher between actual hunger and emotional eating. Knowing what we are working with is the first step in how to control emotional eating.
Have you ever made sure you left room for desert when you are totally full? Telling yourself you deserve that piece of cake, even though you are completely filled with dinner? Ever turn to chocolate when you’re sad?
Using food as a pick me up or a reward isn’t always a bad thing but when it becomes your coping mechanism, then that is where the problem lies. Eating to stop stress or to make yourself feel better is trying to fill emotional needs, not your stomach.
When your first reaction is to grab a bag of chips after a long day, you get stuck in an unhealthy cycle where your real coping skills are used.
The sad thing about it is that emotional eating can’t solve emotional pain. Emotional hunger cannot be filled by any kind of food, no matter how decadent. Sure, you may feel great in the moment but the aftermath is plagued with guilt.
Never fear, it is possible to make changes and take hold of bad habits before they start affecting us negatively. There are healthier ways to help us control emotional eating.
Are you emotionally hungry?
Ask yourself these questions and trust your honest answers to yourself.
• Do you eat when you’re not hungry or full?
• Do you eat when you’re stressed to de-stress?
• Do you eat to feel better?
• Do you eat when you’re bored?
• Is food often a reward?
• Does food comfort you, feel like a friend or make you feel safe?
• Do you regret your eating habits sometimes?
Since food and emotional eating tend to have a temporary numbing affect on people, it allows us to put off dealing with our emotions. A good way to nip that in the bud is by staying present. Feel your emotions. Acknowledge them.
Accept your negative feelings and welcome them because it’s ok to feel sad, scared, insecure, whatever the feeling may be. It is natural and by giving yourself permission to embrace all facets of emotion, it’s easier to manage them.
Eat when you’re hungry
From now on, take notice when you eat if you are really hungry. Not to say you must be famished before eating but we all know those moments when we have the extra bite we really didn’t need.
Emotional eaters often don’t eat when they are hungry. they put it off. The binge eat later on. This does a number of bad things to the metabolism. Eating when you are hungry helps with weight loss because they body isn’t starving and holding onto fat.
Know your triggers
We call them triggers, those events in life that make is resort to old habits, seeking solace in familiarity. When these triggers come along, we need a strategy to stop the emotional eating train before it leaves the station.
If you eat when you’re lonely, maybe try writing in a journal, call or visit a friend. If you eat when you’re sad, maybe go out for a walk or engage in some type of physical activity, no matter how small it seems.
Always carry food with you so you never feel deprived. People emotionally eat at times because they are afraid of lacking something in the future, not having enough food.
Plan ahead. Get rid of junk food and stock the fridge with healthy foods. The guilt isn’t as bad when you eat carrot sticks verses a whole frozen cake.
Triggers can be anything from stress, bundling up emotions, childhood habits, boredom, sadness, and social influence.
Give yourself a time-out
Before giving into your cravings, take a minute. Step back. Pause. Just stop and don’t do it. Resist the craving. Emotional eating comes from habit and is something people do mindlessly. This is part of being present.
When you feel a craving come along, examine it for what its worth. Where is it coming from? You never want to say NO to yourself, or ‘can’t’. But if you hold off for just a few minutes, it gives time to reflect on the reason for the craving.
Humans are incredible. If we only knew how beautiful we really are, maybe we wouldn’t be trying to limit our food intake, or dismissing emotions. Depriving our bodies of food, or emotional eating to an excess are both detrimental to one’s health.
Self-acceptance is imperative for one to get control of their emotional eating habits. Seeing ourselves as majestic and awe-inspiring. This will cause a shift in our appreciation for our bodies and all they do for us.
Developing a relationship with our food is also important because we come to appreciate how it fuels our lives and propels us to greater heights, if we choose wisely.
Lastly, reach out. If you feel you’re having a hard go of things with controlling your emotional eating, talk to someone. You aren’t alone.
What are your emotional triggers ? Let us know your thoughts below …