How to Put an End to Emotional Eating

How can you remedy emotional eating before it causes permanent damage to your health?

One of the hallmark signs of chronic stress in modern society is emotional eating.

Emotional eating is marked by frequent bouts of overeating followed by embarrassment or shame at what has been done. It may occur on its own due to normal stress response or it may occur as a symptom of more serious health conditions.

If you frequently nosh on comfort foods and your health is suffering because of overeating, you must consult with your doctor to see if your behavior does not have an underlying medical cause. If your overeating doesn’t have any physical causes, it’s probably your way of coping with stress.

How can you permanently put a stop to emotional eating?

Emotional eating may bring temporary relief to stress but soon enough, the relief and satisfaction is replaced by guilt or shame. This can easily transform into a chronic cycle of overeating and feeling ashamed at what you did, which isn’t psychologically healthy at all.

If you want to put a stop to your emotional eating, follow these simple tips:

1. Change Your Environment – Emotional eating is often triggered by stressors in particular living or working spaces. The mind remembers the stressor and the locale and responds by sending a signal that you want to eat something to get rid of the stress. Occasional emotional eating is a sign that you have a healthy mind since you’re trying to cope with the stress.

However, this does not mean that you should tolerate your emotional eating. It has to be limited or completely eliminated to ensure that your health will not be put at risk.

By simply walking away from stressors and changing your environment even briefly, you can short-circuit your mind’s desire to eat comfort foods. If you can’t physically leave the office, perform any other activity that will distract you from reaching into the fridge.

My favorite way of distracting myself when I want to indulge in some unhealthy food or beverage is reading something on the Internet. I also have some old novels lying about my table so I can reach for them when I feel bored or frustrated at something.

2. Study and Apply Relaxation Techniques – In most cases, people who want to eat something to relieve their stress will benefit more from different relaxation techniques.

Try techniques like progressive relaxation and deep breathing – these will surely relax you and improve your handling of your appetite. Conscious relaxation will also help cut down your desire to eat since you already feel relieved of the stress.

3. Remind Yourself of the Effects – When a person is feeling stressed or emotional, he/she often needs a bit of reminding before he/she can think straight again.

If you feel ravenous at certain parts of the day because of the stressors that you encounter at home or at work, remind yourself why you shouldn’t resort to emotional eating.

When I first was trying to be mindful of the fact that I was an emotional eater, I kept a picture of myself at my heaviest on the side of the fridge.  The picture reminded me that emotional eating made me feel worse about things, not better.  I won’t say it worked every time, but at least when I went for that comfort food I was craving it was a conscious decision to eat when I was sad or angry so the guilt of it went away. That proved to be significant because eventually the emotional eating dwindled drastically.

4. Breakfast Matters – For several decades now, medical doctors have been reminding the public that breakfast was and still is the most important meal of the day.

Why do they say breakfast is important? By “breaking the fast” that began when you ate your last meal the night before, your body uses the first wave of calories to rev up your metabolism.  Of course this is assuming you are eating a healthy breakfast, and not one filled with useless carbs (bagel anyone?).

I have to admit, although I believe in this basic concept, I lost my excess weight by practicing intermittent fasting, but that’s another story belonging on a separate post! 

5. Eat Slowly – When you eat too quickly, you will end up consuming too much food. When your stomach has to digest a large quantity of food, it diverts a large volume of blood to ensure that the food is digested properly.

Also, if you eat too much on a regular basis, you will feel lethargic and temporarily fatigued because your body will be preoccupied with digesting all the food that you ate. Remember that it takes about 20-30 minutes before your brain can determine if you’re full yet or not.

 

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