How to Stop Emotional Eating
Unhealthy eating habits are often the result of myriad factors, and not everyone who struggles with unhealthy eating habits fits into the same category. I myself have struggled with emotional eating; it is common and serious. Here is how I stopped emotional eating and fixed my relationship with food.
1. Stop counting calories and eat with intuition
Deprivation is a very unhealthy way to lose weight; it may trigger negative thoughts or even depression. “Diet”—as opposed to “a diet”—is meant to be a long-term lifestyle, not a temporary quick fix. A healthy diet involves nutritional meals that you have deliberately planned and prepared to benefit your body. Crash and deprivation diets strip your body of necessary nutrients and calories and often end up with opposite results.
Instead of taking drastic dietary measures, try the small changes to your regular habits to improve your eating.
Portion control: Limit the amount of food you eat. Pay attention to your body and stop when you are full—not stuffed, but satisfied. This will keep you from consuming more calories than you need.
Substitute unhealthy foods with foods that are good for you. Craving something crunchy? Try celery or carrots instead of salty chips. Something sweet? Try Greek yogurt with fruit instead of that ice cream sundae.
Instead of starving yourself, cut back on junk food and increase your consumption of superfoods, which contain all the nutrients your body requires, such as protein, complex carbs, and fiber.
Develop mindful eating habits and have small periodic meals throughout the day when you feel hungry instead of monster meals twice a day.
2. Reconnect with your body and stop using food to cope with your feelings
Food is often used as a coping mechanism for stress or other negative feelings. Try some of these tips to help you gain control over your emotions and your eating.
Me-time: Taking time for yourself can help prevent a build-up of resentful and irritable feelings, which may ultimately lead to comfort food. Think of yourself first every once in a while to make sure you are giving yourself the care you need.
Sleep: Fatigue and lack of sleep can exacerbate food cravings. Make sure you are getting 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep a night to ensure your metabolism is running as it should and not giving you false alarms for food.
Get creative: Find a creative outlet for your emotions. Look through pictures or try your hand at painting. Do anything that keeps your hands busy and keeps your mind off of food.
Get a massage: Treat yourself to a massage to feel relaxed and to revitalize your energy level. This will motivate you to stay busy and also improve the quality of your sleep.
Go out and appreciate nature: Go for a walk or just sit outside for a few minutes. Really pay attention to what is around you; there’s so much to notice in nature, you won’t notice a need to eat.
Dance: Music and dancing have been shown to promote good, positive feelings and they can definitely take your mind off your troubles. Finding your favorite song is easier than ever these days, so crank it up and get moving!
Listen to soothing music: On the flip side, try some soothing, relaxing music if you just need to unwind and let go of some stress. Find a quiet, dark place and tune into a meditation or Zen station. Let your mind escape for a few minutes.
Emotional eating and its effects don’t have to ruin or control your life. You can take back the control, just like I did, and revive a healthy relationship with food.