Emotional Eating… we’ve all done it. You know when comfort and calories decide to make best friends? Or worst enemies. Sometimes you may not even realise you’re doing it and for some of us, it’s our go-to when we find ourselves in a stressful situation. Pretty soon emotional eating can become a habit and as the number on the scale rises/falls so does your state of unhappiness. Sound familiar? Well then, this post is for you!
Firstly, I’d like to state the obvious: We don’t always eat just to satisfy hunger. Some of us do it out of boredom and many of us turn to food for comfort, stress relief, or to reward ourselves and make ourselves feel better. We often use food, not only to fill our stomachs but to fill something else inside of us because dare I say it? We feel a bit empty. It’s hard to admit but it’s true.
Of course, you can and should have some “treats” but whether we turn to drink, drugs or food for emotional reasons it will always lead to unhappiness and it won’t ever serve you well, long term. You should eat something because you want it But NEVER for an emotional reason or because you feel sad or stressed.
Now let’s talk about the other ugly side of emotional eating (or a lack thereof). Emotional eating doesn’t always mean turning to food because sometimes we actually turn away from it! For some of us when things feel overwhelming or make us feel powerless, we restrict our eating in an attempt to feel in control.
Both of these forms of emotional eating can lead to binges, weight gain and or weight fluctuations; as well as numerous other health issues. BUT… here are the good part guys- YOU can make a positive change! You can learn healthier ways to deal with your emotions, avoid triggers, conquer cravings, and finally put a stop to emotional eating.
Let’s get started- I want you to ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you eat more or withhold food when you’re feeling stressed?
- Do you often eat when you’re not hungry or carry on eating even when you’re full?
- Do you eat to feel better, to calm and soothe yourself when you’re sad, angry, bored, anxious?
- Do you not eat in order to feel better and in control?
- Do you reward yourself with food?
- Regularly eat until you’ve stuffed yourself?
- Feel like food is a friend?
- Feel like food is the enemy?
- Feel powerless or out of control around food?
If you’ve answered yes to some or most of these questions then I’d like you to try these useful tips in order to make a change:
- Learn how to distinguish the difference between emotional and physical hunger. Before you reach for food or decide to withhold it ask yourself this: “Am I eating because I’m hungry or is this emotional?” Think about what you’re feeling and if it factors into your decisions about eating or not eating.
- Identify your emotional eating triggers. “Am I under stress? Is it because of the social situation I’m in? Am I lonely? Am I bored?”
- Find other ways to feed your feelings. If you emotionally overeat then perhaps a hobby? A new sporting activity, read a book or watch a TV show that makes you happy. You need to find other forms of joy not linked to eating. Similarly, if you tend to starve yourself remember that there are other ways to find joy and be in control of what you want that doesn’t need to affect your eating.
- Pause when cravings strike and check-in with yourself. Ask yourself: “Do I really need this or do I simply want it because it will make me happy, comforted etc.”
- Support yourself by engaging in healthy behaviours. Try exercise, get some good sleep and invest in relationships that make you feel good.
- Enjoy and savour your food. Chew it multiple times. Think about how what you are eating is going to nourish you and your body and help you reach your goals. Suddenly that twinkie that you thought would make you happy won’t seem as appealing anymore.
- Lastly, be kind to yourself. Always remember that. You only have one body and one life. So be kind and gentle and don’t break yourself down. That can lead to even more emotional eating.
I hope my tips can help you to overcome emotional eating. With a bit of introspection, self-restraint and a positive attitude you can make big changes and accomplish anything! Emotional eating can be damn hard to overcome and it’s a journey but you will learn so much about yourself along the way too if you push through! Let me know what you think about these tips in the comment section. If you would like any advice please comment too. I’d love to chat!
*Disclaimer: if you have a very serious food disorder please do seek the right help for you… If you would like some help with fat loss and mindset for a good relationship with food I’m here to help;)