Emotional eating is a major problem for many of us. When you are feeling low or sad, you tend to gravitate towards food to find solace. Invariably, after overstuffing yourself, you will feel terrible about it and will sink further in your sadness. If you don’t want to be stuck in the rut and want to make some positive changes, follow the below tips to help you get started on a healthy journey.
But before that, you need to identify the causes that make you eat like that.
What causes someone to eat because of their emotions?
You can eat emotionally for many reasons. However, the primary cause is stress. This can be due to financial worries, and health issues to relationship struggles. Also, it is more common in women than men and is one of the main reasons for weight gain.
But why do you have such a dependency on food?
When you are experiencing a negative emotion or stress, many times you will feel empty. Food will make you feel full and will provide you with a temporary wholeness.
The other reasons may be:
- You close yourself off when you feel low and distance yourself from friends and family.
- You don’t engage in activities like workouts that may relieve your stress.
- You don’t understand what is real hunger and what is emotional hunger.
- You have a habit of negative self-talk.
- You let yourself get too hungry or too tired. This way you are more vulnerable to emotional eating.
- You may be trying to lose weight and are on a very restrictive diet.
- You may be living alone with a stressful job and don’t have anything else to look forward to.
5 Ways To Avoid Emotional Eating
1. Learn “Intuitive” Eating
In a nutshell, intuitive eating is about letting go of the notion that food is good or bad. Also, it is a way of trusting your body to provide you with internal signals like hunger, fullness, and satisfaction. There are only two rules that you need to implement:
- Respect your hunger
- Honor your fullness
If you are someone who is prone to emotional eating, you may go on a strict diet after an episode. Then realizing that this is not how you are supposed to act, you will restrict yourself from eating those forbidden foods. Result? You will be stressed and more vulnerable to your emotional eating.
Practicing intuitive eating will help you to your hunger and soul satisfied. This way you will ensure that you will stay healthy.
2. Make a fun activity list
If you are feeling low for some reason, moving around will make you feel better. Also, if you can do some fun activity with your family or friends, you will feel so much better. So, list out the things that you really enjoy. In fact, try something creative with this:
- Cut out the paper in such a way that you have each activity in each strip.
- Put them in a glass jar or bowl and keep them in a place where you can see them.
- The next time you feel emotional and crave junk food, open that bowl, pick up an activity, and just do it.
The dopamine rush that you will get will make your cravings vanish.
Another thing that I personally do is write down what I’m thankful for in my life, for example, being able to run in the morning. I keep going until I start to feel that positive energy. This may sound silly, but most of the time I’m in a positive mindset within minutes. Also, since this activity will distract you, you’ll stop craving junk.
3. Change your snack options
If you don’t have it, you can’t have it...It is that simple.
If you tend to binge on greasy, unhealthy snacks, then the best option will be to just swap it out with something healthier. Greasy unhealthy food increases the level of cortisol, the stress hormone in your body which can increase your appetite. Also, stress raises your ghrelin or the hunger hormone level of your body. Now together they become the most potent combo forcing you to eat that bag of chips. Instead, in place of that bag of chips, if you have some berries or an apple it will make you feel satisfied equally. Also, keep the apple in the open where you can spot it easily. When you are stressed you are more prone to make easier choices.
4. Have some soul-soothing food
I’m nuts, right? I’m asking you to have more food when you are already dealing with an emotional eating problem…
Just hear me out…
If you have a bowl of hot chicken soup or a cup of hot tea, you will trigger a satiety signal in yourself. Try this experiment yourself. It will calm down your appetite and will help to stop that craving.
And that is the whole point… If you are satisfied, you really won’t be binging on that extra bag of chips…
Some of the other food that will help you to tame that hunger monster is dark chocolate, sweet fruits, and vegetables. Also, if you are dealing with sleeplessness which further increases your stress level, have some dark berries. They will help you to improve your melatonin level and will help you to sleep which further will reduce your stress level.
5. Lock Away Your Food Buying Apps
All the above are great ways to deal with emotional eating. But with the advent of technologies, you have become your worst enemy when it comes to changing behavior. When those craving strikes, you need not scout through your entire home, for unhealthy food options...you just need to lift your phone and open that food app and just order the most unhealthy but tasty looking food. Who is going to stop you then? No amount of motivation will come from within to save you from yourself.
So, what can you do?
Here is a simple but effective solution…and you would need a friend or a family member to implement this.
Photo By Madhusree Basu on bestplaygear.com
This is one of the most effective ways as you will not be able to open it when you need to use it and you will specifically ask that person to share it with you. Only the thought of doing that combined with the above strategies will stop you from emotional eating most of the time.
Lastly, if you feel that you are still not able to control your binging after implementing those steps, like heading out of the house to bring in junk, then it may be time to get some professional help. Emotional eating can be conquered.