Before we go into ideas on how to stop emotional eating, keep in mind that emotional eating is a very common problem. What do you do when you are happy and you want to celebrate? You go out and have a huge dinner. What do you do when you feel sad and depressed? You feel that an ice cream or a chocolate cake or a soda drink will improve your mood, don’t you?
This is emotional eating. It is not a problem when it is done occasionally. It becomes an issue when you make it a habit.
How Do You Know If You Are An Emotional Eater?
An emotional eater cannot cope with any feeling without turning to food. To figure out if you are an emotional eater, try answering the following questions.
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- Do you crave food even if you are not hungry?
- Do you feel food can ease your pain and distress?
- Do you feel eating is the best way to escape from boredom?
- Do you start to raid your refrigerator to distract yourself from your feelings?
- Do you feel guilty that you have gained weight because of excessive eating?
- Do you eat again to get rid of the guilty feeling?
- Do you consider taking laxatives to reduce the effects of overeating?
- Do you eat when you feel lonely?
If your answer is YES to two or more questions mentioned above, you may be suffering from an emotional eating problem.
What Are The Dangers Of Emotional Eating?
The most obvious danger of emotional eating is obesity. However less obvious dangers are depression, obsession with weight, and feeling of worthlessness, etc. Emotional eating may simply distract you without solving the real issues, and not allow you to make the situation better or in general meet the challenges of life.
How To Stop Emotional Eating?
Here are 15 ideas on how to stop emotional eating.
- The first step is to identify the trigger. Keep a food journal. Keep records on when you eat, what you eat and why you eat. This will help in pinpointing the situation that tempts you to eat.
- Stress is unavoidable these days. You have to learn to get rid of mental stress in a healthy way. Practicing relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation can help in overcoming stress. Keeping a journal about your feelings may help.
- Try one of the following activities that will take your mind off food and help you relax.
– You can go for a jog or long walk.
– You can read a book.
– You can listen to music.
– Engage yourself in some work like cleaning the house, laundry or washing the car etc.
- Indulge yourself in your passion or a hobby that you like. If you don’t have one, now is the time to figure out what that is!
- Drink plenty of water.
- Drink a cup of herbal tea.
- Talk to your friends or close relatives.
- Avoid stacking your refrigerator with foods that trigger your temptation to eat. Stack healthy snacks like cucumbers, fruits, nuts and carrots, etc.
- Sleep well.
- Learn new skills to keep you entertained, and avoid boredom. Boredom is a common trigger for emotional eating.
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat a well balanced diet.
- Play with your pet.
- Shift your focus by volunteering to help the sick, the old and the distressed, etc. This helps you put things in perspective and enable you to appreciate your life more.
- If you are not able to overcome emotional eating even after trying these methods, seeing a therapist may help.
Emotional eating is one of the main causes of weight gain and many other unhealthy consequences. If you find yourself always craving food even when you are not hungry, something is distressing you. Try one of the above approaches, take measures to relax, resolve the situation if possible, and get back to a healthy eating pattern.