Do you eat often because of stress or out of boredom, to comfort or reward yourself? If the answer is yes, this is called emotional eating, which unfortunately does not solve problems. After that, not only do problems remain, but there’s also a guilty conscience created due to overeating, and some extra pounds.
If you are able to admit that you often reach into the fridge when you’re not physically hungry, the first step in dealing with emotional eating is to learn to recognize the reasons that lead us to do so.
The next time you suddenly feel the need for food, try asking yourself: “Am I hungry or do I need food for comfort?”.
You will most likely recognize that you are eating because of your emotions when you often reach for snacks, sweets and other foods that will not give you a feeling of fullness for a long time as it gives a nutritionally complete meal. Also, the need for comfort food never stops, and you constantly want to eat again.
Identify the causes of emotional eating
To stop eating when we are not actually hungry, we need to identify the triggers that make us reach for food.
Although emotional eating is most often associated with unpleasant feelings, it can also be triggered by positive emotions, for example: celebrating a happy event, reward for achieving a certain goal, etc.
The most common causes of emotional eating are:
In today’s world almost everybody is under stress. When stress is frequent and severe it leads to high cortisol – a stress hormone, which causes a sudden craving for sweet, fatty or extremely salty foods.
2. Feeding emotions
Feeding emotions can be a way of temporarily putting aside unpleasant emotions like anger, sadness, shame, anxiety, fear and loneliness.
When you feel emotional emptiness or boredom, you crave for food, but this only distracts you for a short time from the original problem of dissatisfaction.
4. Social impacts
You’ve probably happened to find yourself at some social event where everyone is eating, so you reach for food too even though you’re not hungry at all or have just eaten a regular meal. For example: at a family lunch, family members encourage you to put another serving on a plate, even though you are full.
5. Bad habits
Coming home from work, you reach into the fridge almost every day to make up for a number of stressful situations you have experienced during the work day.
Find other ways to “feed” emotions
When you are relaxed, rested, and mentally stable, you are less likely to seek comfort in food.
Regular sleep, exercise and relaxation for at least an hour at the end of the day should be your priority to recharge your batteries.
Spending time with positive people is so important and you should set time for friends and events that will make your life meaningful.
It is important to be aware of what makes you happy and satisfied in life and to indulge in such pleasures as often as possible. With a handful of daily commitments and not enough free time, it’s important to take advantage of every moment to satisfy your desires and get through your daily routine more easily. Most often these are little things that cost nothing: playing with pets, 15 minutes of napping, walking with a friend, morning meditation, bath at the end of the working day, home workout, reading a book you have been planning for a long time, relaxing phone conversation…
Postpone the moment of emotional eating
The moment you feel an emotional need for food, try postponing it for 10 minutes in order to give yourself a chance to think again about the reasons for emotional eating.
At that time, it is best to move around, do a certain task, or take a walk to distract yourself from food.
Exercise, a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle
Regular exercise will boost the hormones of happiness, help you achieve or maintain a desired look, and give a sense of satisfaction. Walking, running or any form of physical activity will give you the energy to do your tasks more easily during the day.
Moving more, getting enough sleep and staying outdoors requires discipline, but in the end it pays off. There’s nothing wrong with skipping a workout from time to time and eating a chocolate bar while watching your favorite series on Netflix, but the problem is when that kind of behavior becomes a lifestyle that’s hard to get out of.
Plan meals in advance
One way to avoid uncontrolled food intake is to plan your meals in advance.
What and how much to eat depends on the person, their life habits and daily schedule, but the golden rule always applies: “Several small meals a day instead of one big one”.
I hope you’ve found this article on how to stop emotional eating and lose weight helpful. In the end, the biggest argument for stopping emotional eating is that excess food intake will not solve our problems.