Help with Emotional Eating and Get Your Life Back on Track!
Do you eat every time you’re anxious or stressed out? Are you constantly craving chocolate and sugary treats? If so, you might be dealing with emotional eating. This problem can sabotage your weight loss efforts and affect overall health. Even if it’s not an actual disorder, its impact shouldn’t be overlooked. Emotional eating can turn into a full-blown eating disorder, leading to diabetes, weight gain, and metabolic diseases.
What Causes Emotional Eating?
It’s not unusual to crave high-calorie, high-sugar foods during periods of stress. Statistics show that about 38 percent of U.S. adults engage in unhealthy eating behaviors when they’re stressed. An occasional binge eating episode is unlikely to cause any harm. However, if you’re constantly eating in response to stress, you may have a more serious problem.
As its name suggests, emotional eating involves consuming unhealthy foods or large amounts of foods to cope with stress, anxiety, anger, or loneliness. It can be also triggered by positive feelings, such as joy and excitement. Boredom may cause emotional eating as well. Those struggling with disorder use food to overcome depression and find comfort.
Emotional eating is always a distraction. When we are dealing with a conflict with a loved one, a stressful assignment or work project people will turn to food as a way of distracting themselves from facing a conflict head-on, using the time eating food instead of preparing their assignment and procrastination from a work deadline.
Overeating and emotional eating can also lead to a spiral effect of guilt after the episode. Guilt for the bad food choices you have just made, as well as guilt surrounding the situation that brought on the emotional eating, to begin with.
Certain foods, especially those high in sugar, increase serotonin levels in the brain, lifting your mood. Sugar is actually more addictive than cocaine. You may also crave fatty foods or comfort foods because of stress.
What’s the Best Way to Fight Emotional Eating?
Emotional eating can take over your life, leading to depression, poor self-esteem, and feelings of guilt. The good news is that you can ditch this habit by changing your approach to food. First of all, steer clear of fad diets. If you’re starving yourself, you’ll end up craving your favorite foods. Remember that balance is the key.
Think of food as fuel, not therapy. Chocolate and cookies are not a cure for boredom or anxiety. If you fall into this trap, you’ll feel worse soon after. Choose foods that are good for your mind and body, and eat mindfully.
One way to help with emotional eating is to remove the items of food that tempt you from your home. If ice cream is your go-to throw it all in the trash bin. If cookies, chips, and chocolate are your choice of foods remove them from your cupboards and replace them with some snacks that have a better nutritional value for your body.
Below I’ve compiled a list of substitutions you may like to try when you are having a difficult day that may bring on the temptation to emotional eating:
Chips:, replace this salty snack with air-popped popcorn, 1 oz of nuts and seeds, dill pickles
French Fries: Try some flat breadsticks with hummus or a baked potato instead of the deep fried french fry.
Chocolate Bars: Dark Chocolate or a protein bar
Ice Cream: a really thick chocolate protein shake, Frozen yogurt, frozen grapes, blueberries, and strawberries.
Cookies: slim cakes, rice cake, a fig bar
Other strategies to help with emotional eating would be, Take the time to enjoy each bite and chew slowly. Focus on the taste, consistency, and texture of your food. Feel it with all your senses instead of taking one bite after another.
Finding different activities to do instead of eating food can be helpful. It can be very hard to avoid stress but finding a way that works for you to cope with the stress is a good place to start.
Practice positive thinking, Affirmations, and books on self-love and positive self-imagine could be helpful. If you’re worried or depressed, call a friend. If you don’t want to burden a friend with your troubles start to keep a diary to write in when your feeling low, or seek help from a professional. Go out for a walk or watch a good movie instead of turning to food. It’s in your power to stop emotional eating. It all comes down to the choices you make every day.
Go out for a walk or watch a good movie instead of turning to food. It’s in your power to stop emotional eating. It all comes down to the choices you make every day. Changing a behavior is difficult but when you have a plan in place, strategies for when the emotions arise and a support team. You can move in a more positive direction.
Information for General Purposes Only
Information provided on this Web site and on all publications, packaging, and labels is for general purposes only and designed to help you make informed decisions about your health. It is not intended to substitute advice from your physician or health-care professional.