Do you still eat your dessert when you are full because you are bored or stressed? Do you eat when you are angry, sad or need to feel better?
All of us have done this from time to time. This is known as emotional eating, and it is just not a good idea. In fact, when we are stuck in an emotional eating cycle, it leads to unhealthy eating habits. Calories and pounds pack on without us noticing. Before we know it, we are 20, 30, or 50 pounds heavier than we were six months ago. There is light at the end of the tunnel, however, and we can turn this around.
We need to learn to recognize the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger. Emotional hunger triggers comfort foods, such as grandma’s vegetable soup or your favorite ice cream, while physical hunger comes on gradually and often is felt by an empty stomach. Also, emotional hunger goes way past the limit of you being full. What do you mean I ate that whole bag of chips?! When we are physically hungry, our bodies tell us when to stop and we should listen to this signal. Likewise, emotional eating cravings are not located in the stomach. Rather, they are located in the mind. Think about this. When you see that six-pack of cupcakes in the grocery store’s bakery, you think it would be a great treat. In contrast, physical hunger is when your stomach grows or you feel that pain of an empty stomach.
So, what causes emotional eating? For most people, it is a form of stress. They have a lot on their plate at work, a family illness or financial issues. We live in a fast-paced world, so it could be any number of stressors. They may also eat because they feel empty inside. Emotional eating is a way to fill their boredom or a void in their life. While it takes their mind off their dissatisfaction, it is not the right lifestyle choice. In addition, their childhood habits may influence their emotional eating. Their parents may have rewarded them with ice cream or brownies for a good report card or to cheer them up when they were sad. These habits carry into adulthood, affecting their outlook on food.
It is easy to stop emotional eating. First, keep a food diary and date each entry. For instance, you may have eaten a brownie on December 9 to cheer yourself up over a flat tire. Now, write how else you could have handled it. Be creative. You will find that the more you journal, the more you will reveal patterns behind your eating habits. Keep track of what triggers these urges and then you can move forward to change them.
Let us be realistic. This is not going to happen overnight, nor should it. Do not be too hard on yourself. Emotional eating is a tough habit to break, but it is possible to do it. It is all about living healthy and getting to a healthy weight. If you need encouragement, seek out a friend to encourage you along the way. There is no reason you should have to go about this journey alone. So follow these tips to curb your emotional habits in relation to food.
Stress and boredom, among other things trigger your feelings. You turn to food for comfort, how do you overcome that?
This is a problem that you don’t see happening to you.
But you learned very young that food is associated with love. As a baby being fed by your mother, when you were a child being rewarded for something good and even if you were upset, you’d get a special meal or treat to make you feel better.
As you grew up, you remember the good feelings associated with food. Your emotions turn on the hunger key and you use food for comfort.
The major triggers of emotional eating are depression, anger, boredom, loneliness, frustration and anxiety.
Being Aware of Your Eating Patterns
Do you over eat from boredom or stress at work? Do you over eat because you’re anxious or nervous at social functions? Do you over eat from feeling bad because you didn’t do something you were supposed to do?
Start a food journal, record what and when you eat, and how you felt. This gives you the patterns to help you determine if you are an emotional eater.
Once you are aware of the problems causing you to emotionally eat, things will start looking better. You’ll be able to evaluate and understand the emotions causing you to eat when you aren’t hungry. You can then deal with these emotions and overcome emotional eating.
Substituting Activities For Emotional Eating
Relieve anxiety and stress through physical fitness.You not only feel great but it’s a great benefit to your health.
Call a friend or family member you trust. Getting support is a big help.
Go for a nice long walk, for example take the dog for a walk if you have one.
Wash the Car
You’ll get exercise plus a chore done.
Go to a quiet place where there is no food or disruption. Visualize yourself somewhere you’d love to be like the beach. Relax and let the urge pass and the stress fly out the window.
Get out of the house and go run your errands. You can forget your problems and accomplish some things you need to do at the same time.
Make a list of other things to do, anything not associated with food. If you’re busy doing something, the urge to eat usually passes. Make sure to add things you really enjoy doing as well!
Don’t expect everything to change over night… You’ve started… keep working towards your goal.
Books for Emotional Eating
When Food Is Food and Love Is Love: A Step-by-Step Spiritual Program to Break Free from Emotional Eating
Emotional Eating: What You Need to Know Before Starting Your Next Diet
Shrink Yourself: Break Free from Emotional Eating Forever
Breaking Free from Emotional Eating
Life Is Hard, Food Is Easy: The 5-Step Plan to Overcome Emotional Eating and Lose Weight on Any Diet
Heal Emotional Eating Video
Emotional eating is the enemy of a slim healthy body. Discover how you can say “goodbye” to your emotional eating for good.
This short tip, when applied in your life, can make a dramatic difference:
“The fewer decisions you make about your diet, the better off you are” Dr. Oz.
Emotional or stress eating is triggered when we are unhappy, anxious or feel bad about ourselves.
Eating to satisfy an emotional response does not end when you are physically satisfied. Dieting does not help as it is usually advisory on health and food choices.
Ending emotional eating is never easy. We have to do a lot of work on ourselves to understand our feelings, which isn’t easy.
Going away for a wellness and detoxification retreat can provide you with time and space to recognize why you stress-eat. While it may not result in a closure of emotional issues, it can be the first step toward ending emotional eating.
The woman who wrote the book ‘Heal Emotional Eating for Good’ and is in Bali to show you how to end the cycle and continue on with healthy habits that help build and restore your mind and body.