8 Tips for Emotional Eating
Does stress drive you to eat? When you’re angry or sad, do you turn to food for comfort? If you can answer yes to either of these questions, you’re not alone. In fact, stress drives many people to eat. Sometimes, the strongest cravings for food happen when you’re the weakest emotionally. You may turn to food for comfort, whether consciously or unconsciously. If you’re eating due to emotional reasons, that can be a problem – especially if you’re not physically hungry.
If you’re prioritizing your emotional need over your physical need to eat, that can be a sure-fire way for you to pack on unwanted body fat. Emotional eating often leads to eating too much, and the foods eaten are usually quick and easy options that are not healthy – such as pre-packaged, high-calorie, and sugary foods. Overeating can also be a bigger problem if you already have health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, or high blood pressure.
The good news is that you don’t have to sabotage your weight loss efforts or health. You can take steps to regain control of your eating habits and get back on track with your fat loss goals. Following are some helpful tips to get you back on track and controlling any negative feelings that trigger emotional eating. You may also want to try the Mindful Eating Exercise on the next page.
- Tame your stress. Practice stress management techniques given on pages 2-3.
- Check your hunger reality. Ask yourself if you’re physically hungry. If not, give the craving time to pass.
- Fight boredom. Instead of snacking when you’re not really hungry, distract yourself. Take a walk or a bubble bath. Watch a movie or listen to music. Surf the internet or call a friend.
- Remove temptations. Clean out your refrigerator and pantry. By removing comfort foods, you’ll find it’s easier to resist any cravings for those foods.
- Snack healthy. If you can’t resist the urge to eat, choose an apple or a handful of walnuts. Drink water.
- Keep a food diary. Record your meals, times you ate, and the feelings you had when you ate. Over time, you may see patterns emerge that reveal your food and mood connection. Then you can make a plan of attack to control your eating habits.
- Learn from setbacks. If you have an emotional eating episode, forgive yourself. Start fresh the next day. Learn from the experience and make a plan to prevent future episodes. Focus on positive changes.
- Get support. Lean on family and friends, or consider joining a support group for emotional eaters.