Are you one of those people who immediately run to the pantry in search of “feel-good” food whenever you feel upset or down? Turning to food for comfort is common; it’s when you do it all the time that it becomes a problem.
What’s worse is when people who do emotional eating feel extreme shame or guilt after succumbing to their impulses, which then leads to a cycle of emotional eating and related issues such as weight gain. If this sounds familiar to you, below are some ideas to help you stop emotional eating.
Being Aware of Your Emotional Eating Problem Is Key
Emotional eating is also usually known as mindless eating since those who grapple with it don’t really think about what they’re doing and just let their unconscious motivations or habits take over. The key is to be aware of why and when you want to eat. This is one of the most crucial lessons weight loss centers like MD Diet in Salt Lake City teach when combating emotional eating.
One great way to put this into practice is to create a food diary. If you need to list down what you eat before actually eating it, you might realize that you’re not eating for the right reasons. This way, you can try a healthier approach to deal with what you’re feeling.
Learn to Cope With Your Issues
For example, if you’re turning to food because of problems with your relationship, be more assertive instead. Or if you treat yourself to junk food because of stress at work, try other approaches to find satisfaction or joy in your job. Otherwise, find a new one.
Try Relaxation Techniques
If you’re constantly stressed and can’t find ways to cope with it, cortisol, a stress hormone that makes people crave salty and sweet foods, could be the one creating you unhealthy cravings. Lots of people turn to food when dealing with uncomfortable feelings like fear, frustration and anger. However, there are better and more effective ways to deal with difficult feelings, such as talking to someone, starting a journal, exercising and even behavioral therapy.
Meditate Your Feelings Away
Depending on what you’re feeling, you can try meditation and other mindfulness exercises to deal with difficult feelings. For example, deep breathing is a technique you can do virtually anytime and anywhere.
Opt for Healthier Alternatives
If the suggestions above don’t completely get rid of your urges to eat when you’re feeling an especially difficult emotion, you can indulge, but consider healthier alternatives. For example, go for flavored water instead of a milkshake or soda, snack on vegetables and fruits instead of reaching for chips, or indulge in dark chocolate instead of a piece of chocolate cake.
Yes, comfort food might help ease your feelings at first, but dealing with what’s behind your hunger and urge to eat, especially if you’re not really hungry, is something that you should really address. It’s vital that you see a specialist if you feel that your emotional eating habits are getting out control because if left unaddressed, these might lead to more serious eating disorders.