Emotional eating is when an individual uses food as a way to cope with their emotions. It is common to turn to food for comfort. It may become problematic when you turn to food for stress relief and complicated feelings. We all often go through this situation and eat in response to our emotions. At times, it may make you feel lighter and better, but it can pose a challenge when done often. Whether you are stressed, anxious, lonely, or tired, you need to understand that food will not fix your problems. There is a need to address the real cause of the emotions and feelings rather than stress eating continually. Here, we will talk about how you may fight and stop emotional eating.
What Causes Emotional Stress Eating?
Before we talk about the ways, let us understand what causes emotional stress in eating. Here are some of the factors which may contribute to stress eating:
- Work stress
- Health issues
- Relationship issues
- Financial problems
- To deal with sadness and loneliness
Most times, an individual may turn to emotional stress eating to suppress or soothe out negative emotions. The hassles of daily life can be challenging to deal with, which is one of the reasons an individual may turn to stress eating.
Is Emotional Eating a Disorder?
Emotional eating may not be a disorder, but it can be a sign of disordered eating. In extreme cases, disordered eating may lead to eating disorders and make it difficult for an individual to live. When an individual is dealing with disordered eating, he/she may have the following thoughts:
- An individual may label food as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’
- Having obsessive thoughts about food.
- Having feelings of guilt and shame.
- Eating after having emotional swings, not due to hunger.
- Being specific about food choices.
- Frequent eating.
- Eating food in restricted quantities.
Eating disorders may arise because of changes in emotions and mood swings. It can be a serious concern and occur throughout the body. If you or anyone around is dealing with an eating disorder, you should seek professional help to stop emotional eating and have a good relationship with food.
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How to Stop Emotional Eating?
Emotional eating can be stressful and may lead to anxiety. Here are some effective ways to help stop emotional eating and stress eating.
Keep a Food Diary
One of the ways you can stop emotional eating is to maintain a food diary. Note down what you are eating and the quantity. Write down how you feel after eating anything specific and note the patterns between food and mood. When you are well-versed in which type of food is causing stress and happiness, you will be able to understand what you should eat and what you should avoid.
Check If You Are Really Hungry
One thing that you need to understand and determine is whether you are really hungry or not. Check your diary if you just had food. In case you have a big meal and are still looking for something to eat, you should ask yourself if you are really hungry. There can be times when you may be overeating because of emotions. If you are craving food because of emotions excessively, you should try to limit it.
Schedule Your Meals
You can stop emotional eating by scheduling your meal gaps and eating at regular intervals. When you do not plan your meals, there are more chances of overeating and emotional eating. Scheduling your meals will also help you understand them. You can decide and plan on incorporating a mix of healthy and unhealthy items.
Make Healthy Choices and Substitutes
One of the ways you can stop emotional eating is by incorporating healthy choices and substitutes. If you are craving pizza, you could look for a healthier alternative. Try to add low-fat versions of the food and add items such as fruits and vegetables. Focus on your goals and try to include a number of new food items.
Do Not Be Hard on Yourself
Emotional eating and stress can be difficult to manage. If you are unable to manage your eating schedule, do not get obsessed with it. Take baby steps every day and try to learn from your mistakes. Check the patterns of your eating and make goals for your eating habits. Use a mix of these techniques to break your stress-eating cycle.
Meditate and Workout
You can try relaxation and mindfulness techniques to stop emotional eating and cope with emotional stress. Meditation will help relax your mind and ease the triggers that may lead to stress eating. Besides this, a good workout routine may help trigger muscles which may relax your muscles. Working out will even keep your body energized and reduce the triggers of the brain. Having a healthy body will also relax your muscles and make you feel good about yourself.
Read Also: How Taking Care of Physical Health Improve Self Confidence
If you are unable to stop emotional eating, you may seek support from others. Talk to your family members or friends about the challenges you are facing. If you are uncomfortable talking to known people, you may seek professional help. Remember, you deserve to have a good relationship with the food, and support from a professional could help fight emotional eating.
Avoid eating while performing any other activity or while watching TV. Your brain may miss out on the complete experience if you commit to any other activity while eating. Limit distractions and address the feelings that lead to emotional eating in these effective ways. Work out to alleviate stress and maintain a diary to stop emotional eating.
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