At times emotional eating affects us all. Emotional eating is eating for reasons other than hunger; some examples are eating happy, sad, bored, stressed, or lonely. Often times when we emotionally eat, we are trying to fill a void, to make up for something that is missing in our lives. Other times, we are looking for the comforting feeling that food gives us.
Everyone emotional eats occasionally, but it is problematic when it becomes a habit. Do you use food as a means of dealing with your feelings rather than dealing with what is truly bothering you? If you do this too often, you will not be able to separate physical hunger from emotional hunger, which inevitably leads to weight gain.
Emotional eating may make us feel better in the short-term because it enables us to stuff our feelings so they do not have to be dealt with. But in fact, overeating can create even a greater sense of shame and loneliness. Try the following techniques to figure out why you may be emotionally eating.
Pay close attention to triggers
Triggers are events that may lead to emotional eating. Think about times you eat when you are not truly hungry. Then think about what you want the eating to accomplish. For examples, the next time you feel stressed from work or too much homework and begin to crave ice cream take a step back and consider your emotions. What do you want the food to do for you? Acknowledge that you want food to put you in a better mood and make you feel less stressed. Will it really do that? Perhaps there is a better way…
Take control by asking the following questions
Do you feel hunger? If the answer is yes, then eat. If the answer is not really, what are you feeling? Consider some other options that don’t include eating. Learn how to nurture your needs without food. Try doing your nails, taking a brisk walk, going for a massage or talking to someone about your feelings. Do something that will keep your mind off food and will make you feel better.
Develop healthy eating habits
Listening to your body’s signals of hunger and fullness can help you minimize emotional eating and help you achieve or maintain a healthy weight. Try to eat only when truly hungry. If you feel like munching but can admit that you are not physically hungry, distract yourself. On the other hand, when you do feel hungry, let yourself eat. Do not decide to eat based on the clock. Rather, listen to your internal cues. You will more full enjoy your food when you eat it while truly hungry.
Do not forbid food
When most people try to lose weight, they decide they cannot have certain foods. This leads to deprivation and cravings, especially when we are feeling emotional. There are no good or bad foods, but there are good and bad portions. Skipping meals can make you very hungry, and generally leads to overeating. Skipping meals is not a way to lose weight. When you eat, you boost your metabolism and burn more calories. When you don’t eat, you slow down your metabolism. Eating regular healthy meals helps keep your metabolism up and burning more energy.
Join a support group or on-line chat group
The support and advice from others can help you through tough times. Support groups are a place for people to give and receive both emotional and practical support as well as to exchange information. Support groups are a place where other people can relate to what you are going through and keep you from feeling like you are alone. Feel free to check out our message boards here at Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right. They are a perfect venue to meet others going through the same trials. Make friends and learn how to handle emotional stresses without eating.
Emotional eating is an unhealthy habit that must be addressed. Seeking medical advice from a healthcare professional maybe needed to help you realize that you don't really need food in the way that you think you do.