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Don’t Let Emotional Eating Control You!
Raise your hand if you feed your feelings?? Do you eat with happiness and celebration, boredom, anxiety, stress, sadness, tiredness, relationship problems, habit or loneliness? We all do this at some point in our lives, but some of us do it on a regular basis, it’s called emotional eating!
For emotional eaters, emotion instead of true hunger triggers eating and becomes a primary coping mechanism. Quite often we get so caught up in the feeling or action that we don’t even realize we’re doing it until we’re at the bottom of the family-sized bag of chips.
With emotional hunger you crave a certain food and nothing else will. It’s a comfort food, it helps you and you reach for it without thinking, leading to binges. While mindless eating may make you feel good in the moment, it doesn’t address the real problem or the feelings that drove you to the refrigerator in the first place. Using food in this way to numb, soothe, or celebrate can lead to the risk that we always associate that food with that core emotion and constantly use it as a crutch.
The type of trigger food you crave depends on your mood… ice cream after a breakup, chocolate at that time of the month, chips out of boredom, fried food at a social event.
Willpower and restraint become non-existent! While many experts suggest dividing large portions i.e. a large bag of chips into smaller bags and eating only one small bag… in reality it really will happen… you are fueling your emotions and you know where the rest of the bags of chips The cookies are… a small bag becomes 2, becomes 3, and before you know it you’ve eaten the original large bag. Let’s be realistic…how can we stop?
When you eat to satisfy hunger, you stop when you are full. With emotional eating you keep going because you don’t feel full and you don’t feel satisfied. This becomes a real problem that is used to manage emotions on a regular basis. A stressful time in life can mean it’s all too easy to try and feel better every day, but that’s not a cure and results in guilt, depression, regret, loss of goals and shame. It’s a negative vicious cycle… you overeat – you feel guilty – you beat yourself up – you go astray with your goal – you feel bad – you EAT!
Research from the University of Maryland shows that 75 percent of overeating is caused by emotions, so addressing those emotions in a positive way is all too important.
So don’t break down…learn from your binge attack, pick yourself up and set goals for the rest of the week
Tips to reduce emotional eating:
- Recognize that you’re not actually hungry, find out what your trigger is, and prepare for it
- Don’t keep emotion foods around the house or on your desk.
- Replace your cravings with healthy comfort food…chocolate ice cream can be replaced with Greek yogurt mixed with PB2 chocolate or organic cocoa powder
- Eat regularly and often… 5 times a day (3 meals and 2 snacks), include protein and healthy fats with every meal
- Drink a tall glass of water or chew gum when the craving strikes
- Do something! Go for a walk, take a break, read a book, call a friend for a chat or coffee
- Learn to manage your stress level: try yoga, a hot bath or get professional help
- Keep a food diary and be honest
- Get Support: Join an online support group or settle accountability with a friend
- If you’re a chronic eater, consider seeking the help of a professional therapist to help you uncover your triggers and how to deal with them.
- Daily exercise helps improve mood and energy level while reducing stress
- You sleep a lot…
- Take some time to relax… recharge your batteries
- Spend time with positive, supportive friends
Learning to control your emotions and moderate your comfort food is key. Healthy habits help break the cycle of mindless eating, healthy habits help you cope when life throws you.
Hi my name is Sacha and I am a reformer emotional eater!
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