How To Avoid Emotional Eating

Emotional EatingIt is truly alarming the number of people around the world who are overweight these days, and it is really no wonder. After all, we as a people have become so lazy and so dependent on sugary, fatty foods and beverages. There are also other reasons why people are overweight however, such as to control their emotions or make themselves feel better. Emotional eating is perhaps one of the most dangerous problems in terms of your weight, especially if you live a very emotional or hectic life.

Sometimes the strongest longings for food happen when you are at your weakest point emotionally. If you are sad or lonely, angry or depressed, you may notice that you begin craving certain foods, perhaps some of which you never even really considered before. Eating as a way to suppress your feelings, such as stress, anxiety, boredom and even confusion, can really sabotage your weight loss efforts. The good news is that if you are someone who is prone to emotional eating, there are things that you can do to get over these habits and get back to eating healthy and looking and feeling your very best.

Find the Problem

It is important that you take the time to try and determine the actual root cause of your emotional eating. Sure you know that you are eating as a way to help yourself deal through the tough times, but there must be a more significant underlying cause. Major live events such as unemployment and health problems, for instance, may have triggered the onset of your emotional eating problem and this is what you are going to have to deal with.

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Also know that there are certain foods which seem to have particularly addictive qualities. These are the foods that most people tend to crave when they are down or upset, and which you should be especially careful with. This includes chocolate and candy, and when you eat these foods what happens is that your body releases trace amounts of mood hormones which is why the foods seem like a sort of reward, because you think that they are making you feel better. They may help temporarily to relieve the feelings of tension or stress that you are experiencing, but even just a few moments after you eat them you will feel even worse than you did to begin with.

Many people with an emotional eating problem also use food as a distraction or simply as something to do. Just as with smoking, a lot of time a person will just eat because they are bored or want something to do with their hands. Most people realize that this is the reason they are eating because they know that they do not feel hungry, while others do not realize it and then become overweight without even realizing that there is something they could do to stop it.

How To Overcome Emotional Eating

If you have realized that you are in fact an emotional eater, there are a few things you can do to overcome your problem. There are certain steps that you can take to regain your life and control your cravings.

The first and most important thing you should do is learn to recognize your true hunger. There are most likely several times during the day when you think you feel hungry again but really are not. The best thing to do is drink a glass of water, and then if you feel full after this you were not really hungry to begin with.

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You also need to determine what your triggers are. This will prevent you from gorging in the future. To find out what your triggers for eating are you should spend a couple days writing down what you eat and what times during the day you get hungry. It is important to associate how you are feeling with what you eat and when, and over time you will be able to see patterns emerging that reveal your negative eating patterns and what triggers you need to avoid. For instance if work stresses you out and you find that right after you get home from a long day you are hungry and craving unhealthy food, then know that you should have healthy snacks prepared and ready to go for when you come home from work each day.

Exercise is another aspect that is critical to discuss here. After all, you can eat whatever you want but if you do not exercise properly then you are not going to be doing yourself any good. Watching what you eat is incredibly important but you also need to make sure that you are getting lots of regular exercise. Even if you can only fit in time to walk around the block a couple times a week you will still benefit from it.

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8 Responses

  1. Ishta says:

    Is there anyone who could overeat whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables? It’s the fatty, sugary, and processed foods like chocolate, sweets, potato chips, cheese and ice cream, and fatty meat that people crave. It helps if these foods are not in the house.

  2. Jackal says:

    As an emotional eater I found this article helpful and reassuring.

  3. Healthyeric says:

    COMFORT FOOD….many just can’t seem to escape it. Even a lot of raw foodists eat excessive amounts of raw cocoa and fat. Raw ice cream is being sold commerically now. We should ask ourselves: “Just because it’s raw, does that mean it is healthy?” I enjoyed the article.

  4. Britt says:

    I realized I was emotional eating about 7 months ago, and since then lost 25 pounds just in the shear fact that I was conscious of what I was doing-I have since learned I am now expecting, and.. boom that emotional eating hit me like a ton of bricks since I have known I was pregnant. I am now fighting that battle (emotional eating like a warrior in battle!) I am now conscious (again 🙂 of what I am doing and the battle is on! Thankfully this is my 3rd pregnancy, so I know that I do not have to eat like this!

  5. I tackled my ‘comfort food’ problem by keeping a food diary. Those sugary snacks soon lose their appeal when you know you’ll be entering them in your journal later!

    It became even more effective when I added some graphs and in the end I created special diet software (I didn’t like anything else out there). It made a HUGE difference for me, though it’s not for everyone. I’ve known some people use it with dramatic success and others just kind of poke around and not really bother. If you DO make the effort it becomes a no-brainer.

    The software ended up becoming a commerical product (Biggly), though I don’t think Bill Gates has much to worry about just yet ;o)

    Another great technique, as someone mentioned above, is to get that stuff out of the house. I always make sure I’m well-stuffed before going shopping and then I can easily walk past such things without putting them in the trolley. If they’re not there I can’t eat them – though it REALLY doesn’t help when my wife brings home sticky buns and other &$#*!

    We’re trying for kids and I jus know what’s gonna happen… I’ll be raiding their coco pops :o*

    The Bodybuilding Geek

  6. Great advice, I am working on this myself as I am an emotional eater, when I get the urge to eat I try to distract myself by going out for a walk and then i say if I am still hungry then I will eat it. but usually that does the trick.

    Emotional eating is such a hard battle since our emotions are always coming and going. I have had to find help to win this war. Currently I am trying a online program through to help me stop the compulsive eating and binging so far I am liking it and it has open my eyes to how I eat foods and checking my emotional state.

  7. Paul says:

    I find that exercising works well for combating the emotional eating. Although due to my skin condition I found it difficult to exercise as much as I would like. This was until I found a post that recommended wearing natural fabrics as clothing and make sure they are loose fitting. Hope this helps someone as much as it has helped me.

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