Most of us have experienced emotional eating at some point in our lives. It can be triggered by a traumatic event, a stressful period in your life, a big life change, boredom, loneliness or sadness . It can become a coping mechanisms for your emotions. Once it starts, the habit is often difficult to shake and you can find yourself stuck in an infinite loop of poor eating habits.
The problem is, whatever triggered the emotional eating, cannot be fixed with food. Whilst you may experience a temporary high and positive emotions, it quickly dissolves into further angst and self loathing. Thus creating an on-going cycle of an unhealthy relationship with food and your emotions.
A few signs you might be an emotional eater:
- Rewarding yourself with food
- Eating when you feel stressed
- Eating when you are full
- Eating to feel better or alter mood
- Thinking of food as a friend
- Eating when bored
Like any habit, emotional eating can be altered, however it takes time and patience. You will have setbacks and make mistakes, but it is important you recognise what’s going on and work towards altering your behaviour.
Some tips my clients have found useful are:
Realise what your emotional triggers are
When you find yourself emotional eating, stop and think about what is going on at that moment in time that is making you want to eat. Are you feeling lonely, bored or sad? What has happened to make you feel that way? If you can understand your emotional triggers, yo will be better able to cope with them in a healthy way.
Often we eat because we feel bad about ourselves, perhaps you dislike your body or feel like your not good enough. We all need to be a bit nicer to ourselves and show some self-love. Instead of focussing on the negatives, it’s time to start seeing the positives, and there are always so many positives, you just need to change your perception.
Ask yourself if your actually hungry
Often when we are emotionally eating, it has nothing to do with actually being hungry. In fact, many people who emotionally eat, have actually forgotten what it feels like to actually feel hungry. Feeling hungry is a healthy and natural response for the body to experience. Eating constantly, with the absence of actual hunger, can become a difficult habit to break. So before you grab a snack, stop… Ask yourself ‘am I actually hungry?’
Take 5 minutes
When those cravings come, they can hit you like a tone of bricks. Suddenly you find yourself ravenous and wanting to gorge on everything in the house. When this happens you need to Slow yourself down. Get out a timer, time 5 minutes and give the cravings and feelings a chance to subside or at least lessen. By taking some timeout, you put yourself back in control of your emotions and allow for some rational thinking, instead of emotions and cravings.
Emotional eating can be a really difficult habit to break, especially because it often involves some self analysis. But the bonus is, you may finally sort through some of those emotional issues you have been carrying around.