How to Stop Emotional Eating
The phrase “emotional eating” has definitely made itself known in pop culture, but it’s nothing to take lightly. It’s estimated that emotional eating is an issue for over two thirds of the people out there trying to lose weight and after polling my Facebook page for Weight Loss and Training it seems to be a pretty big problem with over 4o comments left in just a couple hours.
Emotional eating is pretty easy to understand, but overcoming it is no easy task. Many of us have the tendency to eat poorly and eat more when we’re stressed out or upset, and that’s a deadly combination. We’ve all seen movies where eating a tub of ice cream seems to cure a breakup, or consuming an entire pizza helps one cope with loneliness.
While coping in this manner may not be the smartest idea, seriously troublesome emotional eating happens on a much more frequent basis. It’s the everyday, bag-of-chip emotional eating that can spell disaster for your health – and your fitness goals.
How to Stop Emotional Eating
The first step in stopping emotional eating is to become aware of it. Awareness is always key when it comes to changing any health behaviour, and it’s important to become aware of not only the behaviour but also how it impact your life.
Next time you feel sad, lonely, anxious, or even bored, stop for a moment and think about your gut reaction.
Do you find yourself thinking of food? Racing to the kitchen to grab a snack? If so, you’re probably an emotional eater.
Take a few minutes to reflect on your emotions, and on your tendency to go to food. Doing this over time will help you recognize those feelings more easily, perhaps before they even come up.
And that’s when it’s time to do something about the emotions. To successfully stop emotional eating, you need to come up with some other coping strategies. Here are some ideas:
- Don’t keep any unhealthy foods or snacks in your house. This may sound difficult at first, but having some of your “bad foods” easily accessible means you’ll be more likely to lean on them. If you do need some snacks on hand to help you transition, take a look at these Healthy Snacks for Weight Loss.
- Get outside and go for a walk or light run. This is one of the best coping responses at your disposal. When you’re stressed out or down in the dumps, a little exercise can be just what you need to feel better and overcome those cravings. It may feel like a wall you need to overcome, but don’t think about it, just put on your workout clothes and get out there.
- Hang out with friends or family. Research has demonstrated that the best thing you can do to be happy is to be social. So next time you’re feeling low, interrupt your urge for emotional eating by hanging out with a friend or doing something that doesn’t isolate you from others. This is a great time for having a mug of hot tea to converse over, and with all the different flavours of tea out there now this can actually be a pretty cool experience (my favorite is black licorice tea which has a hint of cinnamon in it, yum!).
No matter what your fix, you need to start with awareness. Think before you act, and seriously consider why you’re engaging in emotional eating in the first place. Perhaps there’s something you haven’t resolved, or some larger underlying reason for this problem behaviour. Either way, it’s under your control!
For more tips on reducing stress and overcoming the blues, read my article on How to Handle Stress.
Replace Emotional Eating with Healthy Eating
Another important step to dieting success is to really focus on healthy eating. This alone may help you stop your emotional eating. Take a look at my Healthy Eating Challenge here – it’s a great place to start!
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