A lot of people don’t realize that emotional eating is directly related to stress. But if we put it this way, most emotional eaters are probably not aware that they have a problem in the first place.
Emotional eaters tend to eat whenever they feel upset, anxious, nervous, and basically… stressed.
While it is totally possible for someone to feel positive feelings like being happy and delighted when eating, that condition is more affectionately referred to as a binge. It’s still a form of emotional eating. But it’s positive connections make it a lesser problem than it’s negativity-inclined cousin.
Emotional eaters are basically feeding their stress. And with cloudy food choices, they consume food that is bad for the body to neutralize that stress.
This gives them a high for a few seconds before feeling guilty. And this guilt builds more stress. Triggering a craving to eat more. The cycle repeats and won’t stop even when you get obscenely obese. In worst cases, it can even lead to depression.
Some of the usual suspects include
You might think you have a problem. But for some reason, you are uncertain if you indeed have an issue to deal with.
Well you are on the right path as the first step to overcoming emotional eating is to be aware that you have a problem.
Here are more strategies an tactics to combat this undesirable habit.
1) Decoy and distraction
One of the oldest methods of kicking bad habits is the old distraction trick.
This is the simple act of doing something, any activity, whenever you feel a craving to eat mindlessly.
- Go for a walk
- Online gaming
- Chat with a friend
The key to distraction for good effect is to engage in activities that does not require you to think deep. The more you allow your brain to think, the more probable that you might think about eating again.
This means that when trying to distract yourself, you shouldn’t take on activities like writing journals, reading, or homework. Also avoid the TV as that’s the biggest cue for you to start snacking again.
Often times, all you need to do to combat cravings is to relax.
When we feel tension, we feel the effects both on a physical and psychological way. And for some reason, instincts tell us to eat in order to relief these unpleasant effects.
Maybe the body knows the temporary effects a sugar-rush can induce? I don’t know.
If you can get past a craving and withstand it’s onslaught on your brain for maybe a minute or two, very often you would find that the craving is gone.
3) Use reminders
A lot of times, we snack without even thinking.
Surely you must remember a few incidents when you walked to the fridge and open it’s doors to look in without even knowing why? It’s like a reflex!
Pin up a note using a fridge magnet to remind yourself not to eat when your are not hungry. This was you will see the note whenever you reach for the fridge.
You can also use sticky notes on cookie jars and packaging of tidbits.
A simple reminder to mindful eating can go a long way.
4) Have breakfast
It’s not the most important meal of the day for no reason.
You body will have gone through extended hours without food the moment you wake up and consciousness takes over. It is hungry and rightly so.
There many advantages for breakfast. Yet it is the most skipped meal of the day.
- Start your digestion engine and metabolism
- You body will have the whole day to burn off the calories
- Load up with energy to go about the day
- Refuel after as much as 12 hours without food
- Prevents eating of unhealthy processed snacks before lunch as you are not hungry
Other than being a base for a stress-free day, in bodybuilding circles, breakfast is an essential meal to get your body to start metabolizing.
So it can be a step towards weight loss too.
Just be mindful to be moderate with fat and carbohydrate consumption.
5) Spread out meals
A proven method to preventing overeating is to spread out your meals. This means that instead of having 2 big meals (lunch and dinner) a day, spread it our to 4 smaller meals by splitting the meal portions.
You will in effect consuming the same amount of food. But because you spread out the timing, you will feel lesser periods of hunger.
It’s simple meal management.
Having large meals also tend to make one feel lethargic. And you would feel hungry sooner than when the next meal time arrives. Making you prone to snacking emotionally.
Meal portioning makes perfect sense.
6) Replace snack with healthier options
If you absolutely do have to snack, replace your existing snacks with more healthier food choices.
For example, have you heard about superfoods?
Superfoods are foods that supposedly have very healthy and nutritional qualities. Some people even believe that they help the body reduce fat instead of packing fat.
Replace your chips and crackers with foodstuff like:
- Green tea
- Dark chocolate
Not only might you better manage stress by alleviating emotional eating, you could get slimmer at the same time with a snacking regime like this.
If a full stomach is all you need to instinctively avoid more food, then water could be the best solution for you.
Plain water has zero calories. And the body needs a vast amount of it to optimize it’s functions. Which is why it’s such an irony that 90% of the population do not drink enough water each day.
Every time you feel an urge to snack, drink a glass of water to start off. You would end up eating less garbage and hydrate yourself at the same time too.
See it as a way to fool your mind into avoiding snacking and a way to detox as well.
While some victims of emotional eating might see it as a harmless pleasure to indulge in, the long term effects can be drastically negative. And you should put in a conscious effort to eliminate it as soon as you get aware that it’s affecting you.