Looking to finally stop emotionally eating? Keep reading to learn 4 easy tips you can implement today.
Emotions and food are so intertwined. Our feelings impact what we want to eat, what we don’t want to eat, as well as how much we eat. To a certain degree, this is completely normal and completely harmless. But sometimes, emotional eating can get a bit out of hand.
If you’re unable to control yourself when you’re emotional and around food, there are some quick tips you can implement that will significantly reduce these instances. It’s all about awareness, mindfulness, and intentional action. Let’s get into it!
What is Emotional Eating?
In order to stop emotionally eating, we have to get to know what it really means to emotionally eat. At its core, emotional eating happens when food is used to cope with emotions, as opposed to being used to satisfy hunger. This means you’re using food as a form of comfort, even when you’re not hungry or in need of more energy. It’s often a form of mindless eating. Over time, this can create an imbalanced, confusing relationship with food.
What we’re not talking about here is when emotions have a slight impact on your food choices. Maybe you have a certain comfort food you enjoy having when you’re sad, or certain foods you like to enjoy when you’re excited. These scenarios don’t call for any intervention, as long as they’re done mindfully, intentionally, and generally in the presence of physical hunger.
Our goal isn’t to completely separate food from emotion, that’s no fun at all! But instead, ensure your emotions are only impacting your eating habits in a positive, balanced way. By learning how to create this relationship, you can learn to stop emotionally eating.
4 Tips to Stop Emotionally Eating
Here are my top 4 tips to stop emotionally eating. Start with the first one, then slowly but surely make your way through to implement them all!
Address Emotions Head On
This is the most important tip. Emotional eating often takes place when emotions and stressors are left unaddressed. In order to stop emotionally eating, we need to address our emotions as they arise.
Sometimes this is fairly easy. Maybe you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by this week’s workload and you’re finding yourself turning to food for comfort. In this scenario, you really only need to learn how to cope with the temporary stress of work and implement some systems to help you do so.
Other times, it takes a bit more work. Some emotions are deep-rooted, and may not be easily addressed on your own. In this case, therapy and counseling can work wonders. Working with someone to help cope with emotions can have a significant positive impact on your relationship with food when emotional eating is taking place.
If you address difficult emotions as they arise, and work through deep-rooted emotions from your past, you’ll give yourself the opportunity to stop emotionally eating.
Implement intentional emotion checks
In order to be proactive about addressing your emotions, it can be really helpful to implement intentional emotional check-ins. It may sound silly, but this type of proactive action makes it much easier to remain mindful on a daily basis.
If you struggle to identify emotions on the regular, try setting a particular time of day where you take a moment to pause and reflect. Ask yourself questions like, “How do I feel right now?”, “How have I felt today?”, and “What can I do to cope with these emotions?”. Simply bringing awareness to your emotions can make a world of a difference. That way you’re less likely to reach for food mindlessly and unintentionally. Over time, you’ll then be able to stop emotionally eating.
Reacquaint Yourself with Hunger and Satiety
Emotional eating also takes place when we don’t fully know how to decipher or interpret our hunger and satiety cues. These are the cues our body uses to tell us when we’re hungry and when we’re full. If we don’t understand them, it’s much easier to emotionally eat in the absence of hunger.
To reacquaint yourself with your hunger and satiety, start by reflecting on it before and after meals. As you’re sitting down to a meal, how do you feel? Do you physically feel hungry? What does it feel like? If not, what does satiety feel like? How do you know that you’re not really hungry?
That way, the next time you’re reaching for food in the absence of hunger in response to an emotion, you can conduct a quick check-in. That quick check-in will soon become a habit, and you’ll be able to stop emotionally eating.
Get to Know Your Triggers
While it is possible to have all heightened emotions cause emotional eating, in my experience, this often isn’t the case. Individuals usually have certain emotional triggers that lead them to emotionally eat. Whether it’s a certain person that makes them feel a certain way, or a particular situation or feeling.
Take some time to reflect on the instances when you found yourself emotionally eating. Try and think through the common denomenators. What kind of emotion were you experiencing? Are there any common environments or people involved in these scenarios?
Once you’ve identified your possible triggers, you can start to prepare yourself. The next time you find yourself feeling said emotion, you’ll be that much more aware of it and can work to mindfully stop emotionally eating.
Learning to stop emotional eating takes time, reflection, and mindfulness. Don’t forget to be compassionate with yourself as you’re trying to stop emotionally eating! Remember that you’re only human and change doesn’t take place overnight.
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