Emotional Eating is a common, albeit unhealthy, coping mechanism. So many people do it. I mean, raise your hand if you ever use emotional eating to cope with stress, anger or sadness – believe me, my hand is raised, too. It can make you feel better in the short term, but in the long term it feels worse, and it certainly doesn’t do anything for what you’re actually feeling at the time. There are so many better ways to cope with negative feelings – but first you have to stop emotional eating, and here are several ways you can do that.
1. Distract Yourself
If you find yourself about to start an emotional eating binge, distracting yourself might be the best option. Do something else, like take a walk, read a book, or even chew on a toothpick. If it’s an oral fixation kind of thing, try a lollipop or a piece of gum.
2. Shift the Focus
Shifting the focus of your emotions is a good idea too. I know that’s not always possible, but if you can, focus on something else. Try to figure out why you’re feeling sad, angry, or stressed. Make yourself think about something that inspires happiness instead. Go talk to a friend or a family member, play with your dog, or heck, even hop online and read blogs!
3. Determine Your Hunger Quotient
Hunger isn’t usually a factor of emotional eating. I don’t know about you, but I rarely feel hungry when I eat emotionally. So before you start eating, try to think about whether or not you’re actually hungry. If you are, then turn to portion control instead. Don’t eat just to feel a void.
4. Listen to Your Body’s CluesFor that matter, your body will tell you when it’s full. Listen to those clues, and behave accordingly. Don’t make yourself eat when you’re not really hungry, even if you’re upset or tense. Instead, also try to understand the messages your body is sending about how it feels.
5. Eat in the KitchenEmotional eating rarely occurs in the kitchen. Instead, you probably take your comfort foods to the couch or to your bedroom, right? So, sit down at the kitchen or dining room table instead. That can make it feel more like you’re eating a meal, which can turn you away from the urge to eat emotionally. Comfort is part of that cycle, and sitting in a hard kitchen chair isn’t nearly as comfortable as eating on the couch.
6. Respect Your BodyYou have to give your body respect. If it’s full, don’t force yourself to eat. If it’s feeling tense or stress, nourish those feelings and try to make them better instead of trying to quash them and bury them under food.
7. Find Triggers
What triggers your emotional eating? Do you eat when your feelings are hurt, when you have a bad day at work, or when you fight with your partner? Pinpointing your triggers and learning to understand them can make it easier to stop eating when you experience the attendant feelings.
8. Deal with the Issue
Similarly, try dealing with your emotions instead. Find a way to vent or to soothe yourself. That might involve talking to a friend, a family member, or even a counselor. It might involve exercising, reading a book, listening to music, or taking a hot bath.
9. Talk to Someone
Sometimes sharing your emotional eating tendencies with someone can help. You might just share it with a friend so you have someone to call when you feel that tendency coming to the fore. However, if you’re very concerned with the problem and it’s seriously impacting your health, then talking to a doctor or a therapist might be helpful too.
10. Try to Uncover the Problem
Why do you feel the need to eat when you’re emotional? What’s the purpose behind that? Why does it make you feel better? These are the questions to ask yourself when your emotions make you overeat. Uncovering the problem can help you stop. Again, this might involve talking to someone, either a professional or somebody close to you.
Using emotional eating to cope with being depressed, mad, or tense really is common. Lots of people do it – both men and women. The thing to remember, however, is that emotional eating doesn’t really solve the problem. In many cases, it actually makes it worse, simply because it’s not all healthy. I hope some of these tactics to stop emotional eating can help you. When are you most likely to find yourself eating because of strong emotions?
We all battle with the vicious cycle of emotional eating.....at least I think we all do. Maybe next time you are about to shove a german chocolate cupcake in your piehole, you'll think of these little tricks. I know I'm going to!