Do you eat when you are sad, to relieve stress or try to feel better?
Here are some tips to understand emotional eating, fight cravings, identify triggers and find more satisfying ways to feed your feelings.
What is emotional eating?
We often turn to food for comfort, as a reward or stress relief. And when that happens, we usually reach for junk food. Emotional eating is used to feel better – to feed your emotional needs. But, it doesn’t fix your problems and ends up making you feel worse.
Are you an emotional eater?
- Do you reward yourself with food?
- Do you eat to feel better?
- Do you eat more when stressed?
- Do you eat when you are not physically hungry or even full?
- Do you feel powerless or out of control around food?
- Do you feel guilt or shame about your eating behaviors?
Alternatives to emotional eating
- If you’re bored, think about all the things you like to do but never have time to enjoy. Read a book, watch a movie, get outside, exercise or enjoy a hobby such as painting, playing guitar, etc.
- If you’re anxious, take a brisk walk, exercise, talk to a friend or squeeze a stress ball.
- If you’re lonely or depressed, play with your pet, call someone who makes you feel better, think about things that give you enjoyment.
- If you’re overwhelmed or tired, treat yourself to a cup of tea, a warm bath, wrap yourself in a big blanket, stay hydrated, meditate, rest.
Causes of Emotional Eating
- Stuffing emotions
- Boredom or feelings of emptiness
- Childhood habits
- Social influences
What to do when the urge hits
Many emotional eaters feel powerless over their food cravings. You have more power over your cravings than you think.
Take 5 – emotionally eating tends to come on quickly. Take a moment to pause when you are hit with a craving to allow yourself the opportunity to make a different choice.
Learn to accept ALL feelings – emotional eating stems from feeling powerless over our emotions. You avoid your emotions with food. Allow yourself to be comfortable with all your emotions.
Indulge without overeating by eating mindfully and savoring the flavor – emotional eating is quick and mindless. Slow down and savor each bit and enjoy food more which helps reduce overeating.
Self-care and healthy lifestyle habits
Taking care of yourself allows you to be able to handle life’s curveballs better. Exercise, sleep, relaxation and connecting with others are all key to being your best self! See the Five Habit Series: Eat a Healthy Diet for tips and creating healthy lifestyle habits.