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How to Overcome Emotional or Compulsive Eating
Have you ever felt so lonely that you grabbed that tub of ice cream on the fridge and ate it while your tears flowed? Or have you ever felt so happy that you ate a lot while laughing and talking to others about your exciting experience? Yes, we all love to eat no matter what the circumstance. Food is a basic necessity in life. Even when we’re not too emotional, we eat because it’s a way of life.
Everyone knows that we eat to nourish ourselves and to stay healthy. But eating too much can cause your body weight to gain, which could lead to being unhealthy. Becoming overweight can be stressful. I know, I’ve been there. I was naturally thin but as I get older my metabolism gets slower thus gaining those extra pounds on the scale. But I was able to overcome it. I won’t write here about how I lost weight, but I would like to focus on emotional eating. One of my online friends inspired me to write this. She broke up with her boyfriend, she was able to move on, but now she’s getting excited again. Oh good…
We all have great and terrible days. Now, some people eat a lot whenever they’re feeling emotional or stressed. I don’t know why but eating can make us feel better. But the fact remains that if you eat too much, you will gain weight, which is not easy to lose. So what drives us to become emotional eater? Try asking yourself these questions:
Have you recently experienced a painful breakup or loss of a loved one?
-Did you feel stressed at work?
-Were there any unresolved family or personal issues that bothered you?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, chances are you are an emotional eater. Evaluate yourself: do you eat even when you’re not hungry? I was an emotional eater. During those times, when anxiety strikes, I turn to my “comfort foods” like ice cream, chocolates, cakes, donuts, and other sweets. Until I realized that I had already gained too much weight and my clothes no longer fit. It’s not just about getting fit and keeping the body I want. It’s about staying healthy. So, let me share how I got over being an emotional eater:
I’ve accepted the fact that I eat a lot whenever I’m feeling stressed or emotional. I believe this is the first step in overcoming emotional eating. When you have already accepted that fact, then it would be easier for you to stop and think ahead every time you feel the urge to bite into that big slice of pizza just because you get disappointed or things didn’t go your way.
“Am I really hungry?”
This is something you should ask yourself before you reach for that tub of ice cream or before you bite into that big bar of chocolate. I read somewhere on the internet (sorry, I forgot where I got this information) that whenever you “think” you are hungry, drink a glass of water first because thirst can be confused with hunger. The same thing can apply to compulsive eating. Whenever you feel anxious, drink a glass of water first. So think and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” before eating.
This is a habit I made myself develop and I was so proud the first time I stopped binge eating. That time, I had a bad night at work (I was working nights) and when I got home in the morning, I was almost tempted to order a burger from a fast food restaurant, but changed my mind. Instead, I changed into my clothes and put on my running shoes. I jogged and walked around the neighborhood. I was amazed because for the first time I had noticed the color of my neighbours’ houses, the lady with 5 cats and the happy children going to school. It was like I just moved, but I’ve been living in the same neighborhood for over 5 years. After a healthy sweat, I came home, took a quick shower, had breakfast (healthy without burgers and donuts) and felt happy. And yes, I didn’t eat too much.
Divert your attention
What if you suddenly feel nervous, excited, or capricious? You can focus your attention on other things. What I do is write it down on a piece of paper, or in my journal (yes, I still keep a journal). Or you can listen to good music or watch a good show – just avoid reaching for popcorn. Or, if it’s possible and safe to do so, you can go out for a walk. Walk calmly and breathe. Do something that can focus your attention on something other than eating, except of course when you’re REALLY hungry.
I’ve never been away from ice cream, donuts, cakes, chocolates and other sweet things that I love. Overcoming compulsive eating doesn’t mean you have to let go of the things you enjoy (at least, that’s what I think). What I do is that I rarely eat them and only eat them to reward myself. Like when I managed to finish all my DIY wedding invitations, I felt happy and thought I deserved a reward. So I got three scoops of my favorite ice cream. Yes, I still had the ice cream but I didn’t consume the whole tub. I drank three scoops because I think I deserved it. And that was all.
Overcoming emotional eating is not an easy task. In some cases, it may be necessary to seek professional advice to help you improve your well-being through relaxing procedures, sharpening your critical thinking skills and controlling your emotions. Seek professional help and involve your family as well.
Just to remind you that I’m not a professional. I’m just sharing my experience. It would be best to speak to a specialist in this field.
And you? Have you been a compulsive eater? How did you overcome emotional eating? Feel free to share your comments and suggestions in the comment section. Thanks for reading!
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