Emotional eating is basically using food to make you feel better. Its eating to satisfy your emotional needs rather than your physical hunger. For example you might reach for alcohol if your feeling down, or order a pizza if your feeling bored or lonely. Occasionally using food to reward yourself is not a bad thing for example if your celebrating a birthday. However if it spirals out of control and is used as a primary coping mechanism then you get stuck in a unhealthy cycle and never address the real problem.
The signs of Emotional Eating
- Eating more when you are stressed
- Eating when you are not hungry or full
- Eating to feel better
- Rewarding yourself with food all the time
- Eating until you are stuffed
- Eating makes you feel safe
- Feel powerless around food
Alternatives to Emotional Eating
If you don’t know how to manage your emotions that doesn’t involve food then you wont be able to control your eating habits. In order to stop emotional eating you have to find other ways to fufil yourself emotionally. Try some of these alternatives to emotional eating to stop that unhealthy cycle.
- If your feeling depressed or lonely call someone that makes you feel good
- If your anxious, expend your nervous energy by dancing or taking a brisk walk
- If you are exhausted, treat yourself to a cup of tea or take a nice long bath with scented candles
- If you are bored, read a good book, watch a show or explore the outdoors doing a fun activity.
Try Mindful Eating instead
This helps you develop awareness of your eating habits and allows you to pause between what triggers you toward emotional eating. Try using this technique to establish a more mindful eating approach. 5 mins before you eat ask yourself these questions. How are you feeling? What’s going on emotionally? Even if you do end up eating you will understand why? This will help you set up a different response next time.
How to practice Mindful Eating
- Sit in a calm environment with no distractions
- Contemplate where you food came from and what it took to get to your plate
- Try eating with your non-dominant hand
- Set a timer for 20 mins and pace yourself whilst eating
- Take small bites and chew all your food
- Before you have desert pause and consider if you are still hungry
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