Do you keep away from food when your kids get bad score in school? Or, are you not eating at all when you hear a bad news? Do you stuff yourself with food even as you are totally full? Do you treat yourself to food for any possible occasion? Do you fight anxiety by overeating? You are probably a victim of emotional eating if the answer to all these questions is ‘yes’.
What is emotional eating?
Emotional eating is the habit of overeating or not eating in response to an emotional trigger. The triggers can be stress, problems at home or work, or even your looks. Victims of emotional eating habit tend to overeat or not at eat at all when they are bored, depressed, anxious, lonely, angry, or even when they are low on self-esteem. However, emotional eating is a habit that you can get rid of, if you follow the correct methods. Conquering emotional eating will result in better mental and physical health and a happy life.
Five tips to overcome emotional eating
Let’s look at the top five tips that will help you overcome emotional eating. These tips address the common reasons behind emotional eating. These tips will help you fight the problem in an effective way, at your own pace. However, remember to consult your doctor if you’ve been facing health issues because of your eating habits.
1. Identify the reasons behind emotional eating
Before you set out to conquer this habit, take some time out and identify the reasons or triggers behind your eating habits. Try and find out if there’s a pattern in your eating habits. Do you crave for sweet/salty/fatty food? Do you treat yourself to a sumptuous meal with desserts while a healthy mixed vegetable sandwich would have actually satisfied your hunger?
If you analyze your eating habits for 4-6 days, you’ll be able to find a pattern. Knowing beforehand about this pattern will help you avoid such instances. In stead of treating yourself to junk, fatty food, take a vow to eat healthy food, and binge only once in a while. Have balanced, regular meals so that you don’t feel hungry in between meals. Have snacks only if you are hungry in between meals. Snack times should consist of smoothies, fruits, carrots, salads etc.
2. Start a food diary
If you feel you are suffering from emotional eating, start writing a food diary. Write down all the food items that you are consuming in all circumstances. Write about your feeling after you eat. Did you feel happy/sad after eating them? Keep a watch on your weight in the diary.
Mark if you have skipped meals. Specify the reasons for skipping meals/overeating. Are you happy when you don’t eat at all? Are you satisfied when you overeat? After a week of maintaining this diary, do back and read through. You’ll be surprised to find ways of avoiding emotional eating.
3. Develop alternate means to avoid emotional eating
The above mentioned steps will help you identify the triggers. Once you identify the emotional triggers, try and find out alternate methods to entertain yourself, rather than sticking to eating all the time.
The long list of emotional triggers will also help you understand the unhealthy implications of emotional eating. People often misinterpret thirst for hunger. Try drinking a glass of water/juice when you are hungry. This will help you stay away from dehydration. Try chewing a sugarless gum when you feel like overeating because of boredom. Carry homemade snacks when you go for a movie/picnic.
Opt for salads when you eat out. Compensate by having a healthy milk or fruit-based dessert, after the meal. Read a good book or magazine when you feel stressed. Listen to soothing music. Lay out a relaxing bath for you with essential oils and spend some time in the bathtub. Play games with your family. Go for swimming, or do any form of exercise. Go for walks. Keep yourself busy with these activities. Remember that boredom is one of the main triggers behind emotional eating.
4. Manage stress
There are multiple methods to manage stress. You can learn about them online, or even from books, or friends. Practice some of these strategies when you feel stressed, at home or at work. You may find it tough in the beginning, but once you master this art, the benefits are huge. Learn to develop a positive attitude towards life, by reading self-motivating books or by talking to peers. Form a friends circle and do activities together. Practice a sport, or visit the park with your kids. Look at this opportunity as a means for you to enhance your skills.
5. Get professional help, if required
If you know anybody who had faced a similar problem, speak to him/her. Form a club with such people. Interact with then and find out if they managed to get rid of this habit. Try and approach your family doctor and explain the situation, if you are not able to manage on your own. Get professional treatment to control this habit. Some people may have to attend counseling sessions for better results.
Finally, accept the fact that it takes time to be rid of emotional eating. Emotional eating will have a direct impact on your looks. You may be obese, or dangerously thin. But, remember the fact that you can’t change your looks overnight by following the tips mentioned here. Be patient, and keep working towards your goal.
After months, when you look at yourself in the mirror, you’ll have many reasons to be happy. Reward yourself with a short holiday, new clothes, or a visit to a spa for a good job done. Remember that it takes only willpower to conquer this unhealthy habit. And promise to yourself that you’ll never resort to this habit, ever!