Overcoming Emotional Eating
The continuous rounds of emotional eating can be a vicious cycle to break, as it impedes on both mental and physical health. Get control of emotional eating and free yourself from the detriments it may cause with these tips and advices.
Emotional eating can be a two-way street: Emotions may fuel an intense craving towards food while weight gain can surface and heighten depressive feelings, subsequently recycling emotional eating and leading to additional weight gain. The continuous rounds of emotional eating can be nonetheless vicious, as it impedes on both mental and physical health. Get control of emotional eating and free yourself from the detriments it may cause with these tips and advices.
Whether based on a major life event, work stress, a relationship conflict, or financial worry, unwanted emotions may knock at the door, intrude in, and overstay their welcome. During stress, anger, worry, and other negative feelings, seeking out food for comfort measures is not too unlikely. Emotions have a strong tie and bond to diet choices and unfortunately, the chosen foods tend to be rich in sugar, fat, and calories and consumed in large volumes.
Emotional eating can be further fueled by dopamine, also known as the "feel good hormone." Especially in strong emotional bouts, taking to food can release dopamine and activate the reward and pleasure centers and potentially diminish the efficiency of satiety cues (or feeling full), subsequently consuming foods in excess. The art of sugar's renowned addictive properties can further instigate emotional eating and fuel the drive towards its intake. Though the cycle is nonetheless complicated and mind-numbing, it can be broken with initial recognition and ongoing measures of control.
Controlling Emotional Eating
How to Overcome Emotional Eating
Whereas hunger and cravings are casually used interchangeable, they are vastly different and distinguishing between the two is essential for understanding emotional eating patterns.
Cravings are predominantly a mental desire, mostly stimulated and fueled by negative feelings and emotions. Cravings tend to be comfort food-specific, including products rich in sugar, fat, and salt, and often pass with time. When cravings are fed into, individuals are commonly unsatisfied following their intake and may even feel guilty.
On the other hand, hunger is a physical need for food and results to a growling stomach, headache, and loss of energy. Hunger is often not exclusive to one food and individuals likely feel satisfied after eating.
Keep A Food Journal
Keeping a food journal can reveal patterns detecting emotional eating triggers and patterns, including those bouts of stress eating during the afternoon hours.
Write down how hungry you felt before eating, what and when you ate, the amount of food consumed, and the emotions felt when eating and how you felt afterwards on a consistent basis.
Mindful eating is a growing approach in the health world. The practice focuses on intuition, paying attention to the senses and identifying hunger and satiety cues. Mindful eating shows success in the treatment of disordered eating and weight management, making it a valuable approach to hinder emotional eating and consequences of weight gain. You can practice mindful eating by concentrating on the smells of foods, how it tastes, and fully being present with food while eating.
Managing Stress Without Emotional Eating
While it may be easier and more desirable to find comfort in a large bowl of ice cream, stress can be managed without resorting to food. One of the greatest techniques in stress management is with exercise. Not only can a good workout reduce stress and elevate mood, but its practice can foster weight loss. Various stress-relieving techniques include practicing yoga, taking a walk in nature, relaxing in a warm bath, and getting lost in the words of your favorite book.
While consistently reaching for the cookie jar on daily bouts of stress is fairly discouraged, it truly is okay (and even recommended) to allow yourself to indulge on occasion. Food is meant to be enjoyed in a mindful manner and consistently depriving yourself from life's pleasures can actually create more harm than good, as food avoidance can paint a damaging picture.
Learn from Setbacks
So maybe that indulgence transpired into a back and forth trip to the cookie jar... Rather than dwelling on over the binge and fueling the desire to emotional eat even more, learn from personal setbacks. The past cannot be manipulated in any form or fashion so forgive yourself, wipe off the crumbs, and carry on to a more positive future.
Let Others Help
In all aspects of life, you do not have to go through it alone. Although emotional eating may feel too personal to share, let others help or at least be aware of the situation. Ultimately, though, confine in trusted individuals you feel absolutely comfortable involving. During feelings of weakness or even the uprising of a food binge, reach out and find comfort in their advice and care. Whether online or out in the community, support groups with others dealing with stress and emotional eating can also be valuable resources.
Seek Out Professional Care
While the described tips and support of close friends and family members can be helpful, receiving professional help should be considered if you still are unable to control emotional eating. Rather than blanketing the internal emotions with food, the underlying cause deserves recognition and hopeful management. A professional counselor or psychologist can help identify and release inner causes of the emotions while exploring supplementary coping strategies. It is critical to recognize it is not a display of weakness, but an act of strength towards gaining control of the situation at hand and embodying a happier, healthier you.
Mind/body health: Obesity. American Psychology Association.