Sometimes, emotions get the best of you. If you’re not careful, they can drive you to turn to food for comfort, even when you’re not hungry. Sound familiar? Then you need to learn how to stop emotional eating so you can lose weight or simply enjoy life.
What Is Emotional Eating?
Before you learn how to stop emotional eating, you’ve got to understand what it is. With emotional eating, you don’t eat when you’re hungry. You eat in response to a feeling or emotion.
That feeling or emotion may be one of the following:
- Loneliness or loss
- Sadness or depression
Unfortunately, turning to food doesn’t help resolve bad feelings. In fact, it makes you feel worse. With emotional eating, you aren’t considering long-term consequences. You just feel a need to eat, so you do.
What Are the Signs of Emotional Hunger?
Understanding the signs will help you know how to stop emotional eating. When you eat emotionally, you may do the following:
- Continue eating until you’re uncomfortably full
- Eat when you feel certain emotions (stress, anger, etc.)
- Feel an immediate, overwhelming urge to eat
- Get left with feelings of shame, guilt or regret after eating
- Mindlessly eat more than you intended
- Reward yourself with food
- Turn down healthy dietary options and go for junk food full of useless calories
Compare this to regular hunger. When your body genuinely needs nutrition, the hunger comes on gradually, so you don’t have to sprint to the kitchen to eat right this moment. Also, you’re better able to stop eating when you’re full. When you finish, you don’t feel guilty. You feel energized, ready to continue with your day.
Although it may seem like no big deal, emotional eating can be dangerous. Left unchecked, it can lead to weight gain and ultimately hurt your health and well-being. On top of weight management difficulty, emotional eating may lead to binge eating, an eating disorder that makes it hard to stop eating.
How Do I Stop Emotional Stress Eating?
You don’t have to continue your emotional eating habits. You can learn how to stop emotional eating. Here are a few steps to get started.
- Exercise. Regular physical activity helps manage stress, sadness and more. Working out at least 150 minutes a week may reduce your emotional eating triggers.
- Know yourself. Emotional eating happens for a reason. You feel something, which triggers a sudden urge to eat. Pay attention when you eat emotionally. Write down what you’re feeling and what you want to eat. That way, you’ll know when you’re most likely to do it again. You’ll also know what foods to keep out of your house.
- Walk away. When the craving strikes, don’t give in. Move away from the kitchen or snack machine. Get outside for a breath of fresh air. Just don’t put yourself in front of temptation.
- Change gears. Emotional eating takes over your brain. When the urge strikes, it’s all you can think about. Overcome this by doing something different. Grab a crossword puzzle, restring your fishing reel or do something else to distract you from the artificial hunger.
- Reach out. Emotional eating can’t always be managed on your own. When you can’t control your emotional eating, seek professional help. A professional therapist can help you understand your eating motivation and get it under control.
Talk with a Professional
Is emotional eating wearing you out? Find a St. Elizabeth provider who can help you manage your diet.