How to Handle Emotional Eating?

cover for emotional eating

Emotional eating doesn’t heal emotional issues.

No matter what millennia problem you are having trouble with, the answer is not inside the fridge. It is quite common to find comfort in food when you are dealing with something emotional.

Trying to suppress or soothe out your feelings through emotional eating is not a solution. Rather, it adds up to your bad feelings and leaves you more depressed. 

Additionally, it is not healthy for the body also- both physical and mental.  Do most of the feelings leave you empty or void? To fill this ‘void’, you run towards the easiest solution- food. 

Follow the below-mentioned tips to cut down on emotional eating and develop healthier eating habits, even when you are dealing with various emotions. 

Avoid Triggers

avoid triggers

If you are wondering that only stress leads to emotional eating, then you are wrong. There are other factors also that can trigger you to eat-

  • Boredom- When you are hard hit with boredom, you feel like munching on a pack of chips or a bar of chocolate to cope up with it. When you have nothing to do, you feel that eating is a better option to fill up that void.
  • Habits- When you are burning that midnight oil to complete that presentation and suddenly you get nostalgic over your childhood. You suddenly remember your ice cream flavor or coconut sweets which your grandparents used to make. You get that craving and to satisfy that craving, you gobble on delicacies.
  • Social influences- You can’t just say no to pizza parties or drinking out with your friends. And when you go to these social gatherings, you tend to eat or drink more than your normal capacity. 
  • Fatigue- Extreme fatigue from doing a particular activity over and over again can make you overeat. After a long day, you feel that your favorite dish will provide some comfort.

So the next time, as soon as you feel like eating something, remember that how exactly you are feeling. If any of the emotion resembles the above, then try to cope up with emotions.

Follow a coping mechanism.

coping mechanism

Now that you have realized what can trigger your emotional eating, try some coping strategies. Start by maintaining a food log. It will help to keep track of in which situations you are likely to get more hungry. The behavior to keep a record of are-

  • Hungry level patterns
  • The emotions you are feeling
  • The actions you are taking 

Then, brainstorm ideas to find out ways so that you suppress the triggers that you have already identified. Some of them are- 

  • Read that new book that you wanted to for a long time. Or restart that new hobby which you have left long ago. 
  • To freshen up the mood, try yoga, meditation, or taking a walk just to let go of those thoughts that are bothering you for a while.
  • Discuss the problem of emotional eating with a nutritionist or doctor so that they can give a positive perspective.

Start it from an early age

Emotional eating can develop over the years. For instance, during your childhood, your parents might have treated with chocolate or ice cream you after a tough day or situation. This habit might have continued until this date. So after a long day, you feel like treating yourself with a box of your favorite cookies. 

Understand physical vs. emotional hunger

Now as you are stressed most part of your day, you are sometimes unable to distinguish between your real hunger and emotional hunger. Here is a table that can help you differentiate between the two-

Physical hungerEmotional hunger
It grows over time gradually.It occurs suddenly out-of-the-blue.
You want to try a variety of food items.You want to eat only certain food items.
After a proper meal, you feel you are full.After binging on food, you still don’t have a feeling of fullness.
You don’t feel guilty after eating.You feel guilty after eating.

Exercise is a must!

You can relieve stress if you regularly exercise. So, take a walk or job after work to declutter your mind. Practice a quick yoga routine to blow off some steam after day. If you do this in the morning, you are better prepared for the whole day.

Meditate for relief

You can meditate simply by just breathing. Concentrate on your breath when you inhale and exhale. 

Healthy food is your magic wand

When you take the required number of calories in each meal, your bodily needs are sufficed. You are not hungry until the next meal. So take proper meals at regular intervals. And practice swapping. Try replacing the unhealthy, junk food with healthy alternatives such as: 

  • Chips- Nuts
  • Cookies- Yogurt
  • Chocolate bar- A fresh fruit
  • Fries- Oats
  • Soda- Herbal/Ginger tea 

Throw away those munchies 

Uninstall all food-delivery and grocery applications for a month. It’s time to donate those high-fat, sweet or calorie-loaded things such as chips, chocolate, and ice cream. Also, whenever you are going to the grocery store, avoid the aisles of processed foods and stick to the grocery list.

Keep an eye on the amount

You tend to eat more when you are distracted. Avoid eating in front of the television or computer. Switch off streaming applications and focus on your food bites. Chew your food a couple of times before swallowing. Try to taste the flavors.

Talk to people 

Whenever you are emotional, it is important to talk to a friend or relative rather than gulping down your favorite treats. They can provide you emotional support and help you cope up with whatever you are feeling. Next time you are low, catch up with an old buddy or call them to talk out your feelings. 

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