Do you or have you ever lost control with emotional eating? Sometimes, we don't always eat just to satisfy physical hunger. Many of us also turn to food for comfort or stress relief.
Emotional eating is using food as an outlet to make yourself feel better. You might order takeout after a stressful day at work, or indulge in a chocolate block after a major life event.
Unfortunately, emotional eating doesn’t fix our emotional problems. In fact, it can actually make you feel worse by eating a range of unhealthy and fatty foods. Then, you may often feel guilty for overeating and repeat the cycle.
Identifying Your Triggers
If you suffer from emotional eating, the first step is to identify the root cause. Is In most instances, emotional eating is linked to an unpleasant feeling or life-changing scenario. However, it could also be triggered by positive emotions, such as a new job or achieving a long-term goal.
Some common causes can include:
- Stress-related. The most common trigger is stress. Have you ever had an extremely stressful day and all you feel like doing is stuffing your face with comforting food? We’ve all been there… As your body perceives stress, it releases the hormone cortisol. What this does to the body is triggers cravings for certain foods.
- Boredom. Those boredom hunger cues can hit at anytime, anywhere! If you’re working from home or bored around the house, you might find yourself continuously visiting the fridge.
- Silencing emotions. Whenever we’re feeling happy, angry, fearful, anxiety, or loneliness, food can be a comforting way to distract you from your feelings and emotions.
If you have more than one of these triggers and you’re having trouble finding the exact root cause, it’s important to keep a daily journal. Recording your food consumed, mood, general notes, and if you’re a female also tracking your cycle and habits. This can give you an incredible insight into your patterns and behaviours.
Support Yourself With Healthy Habits
Once you’ve found the root cause, it’s important to support yourself with long-term healthy habits. Exercise, adequate sleep, mindfulness, and human connection are essential factors to help overcome emotional eating over the long term.
Start a food diary
Write down every single thing you eat, how much you eat, how you feel after eating each meal, and how hungry you are. After some time, you may be able to find triggers or patterns that reveal a connection between your mood and food.
Find other ways to cope with stress
If you don’t have a hobby or sport, it’s time to try something new! A great coping mechanism can include meditation and regular forms of aerobic exercise. When you manage your stress effectively, this can have a multitude of benefits - increasing your motivation, productivity, creativity, and even your immune health!
If you’re not the exercise or spot type, you can still keep your find active with other methods such as taking a walk, watching a movie, catching up with a friend, or listening to music or a podcast.
Every individual should find a stress management technique that works for them to become healthier and happier in the long term.
Consume a healthy diet
Typically, when we’re stressed, the first thing we will do is open the cupboard. If you do feel the urge to eat or snack, choose a healthy alternative. This can include fresh fruit, low-fat dips, nuts, or other low-calorie foods. Try to pick foods with high water content, such as celery sticks to satisfy your craving for longer.
If your emotional eating habits have spiraled out of control or if you’ve tried self-help options but still can’t take back control,, it’s time to seek some professional help. Therapy can help you identify triggers and learn new coping skills from a mental health professional.