6 Ways You Can Overcome Your Emotional Eating Struggle
Over the past few years, obesity has simply skyrocketed, becoming a prevalent reason of concern among health specialists. You’d think this happened mainly due to sedentarism or fast-food evolution, which is partly true.
However, the real reason why we’re seeing so much weight gain is emotional eating.
Unlike our ancestors from the past, we no longer eat whatever we find just to survive. Today, we eat foods that make us feel something.
Emotional eating is basically a psychological association between food and feelings. Today’s foods can inspire happiness, relaxation, comfort, patriotism or passion. At some point, our brain can start seeing certain foods as the key to unlock positive emotions.
Unfortunately, this magic only lasts for a little while after which we’re usually back to square one: we still don’t have emotional balance and now our body isn’t in top shape either. That’s how this vicious cycle works.
But can we escape a mindset we’ve been having for years?
Today, we’ll explore 6 effective steps that help you say ‘Goodbye’ to emotional eating and regain control over your lifestyle.
Step #1: Acknowledge your problem
Emotional eating can sometimes be so subtle, no one notices it – not even ourselves.
Researchers have long been debating whether foods high in refined products (sugar, salt, fats) create a physical addiction or if they’re in fact emotional triggers. Turns out, it’s very unlikely for food itself to become addictive.
However, there are a few common signs of emotional eating you may recognize:
- Inability of sticking to an eating schedule
- Night eating
Over time, this behavior can lead to unwanted pounds, obesity and other health risks.
Step #2: Distinguish hunger and emotional eating
When you’re suffering from emotional eating, it’s very hard to recognize when you’re eating from hunger and when you just need to feel good.
This step only requires one question and plenty of practice and that question is:
‘On a scale of one to ten, how hungry am I?’
This question can hit your ‘pause’ button and really make you think about your actions. If you reach a rating of at least five on the hunger scale, then it’s really time to eat something.
Measuring a hunger also helps you prevent overeating, which is likely to happen if you go t
Step #3: Create a healthy schedule
If your eating is all over the place, there’s no way you can ever achieve balance. If your biggest problem is night snacking, for example, you can gradually cut down until you eliminate the habit completely.
Set some realistic goals (big changes may often make you give up too early) and make sure to respect what you’re establishing. This is your chance to make a positive difference for yourself and you deserve it!
Step #4: Find balance
Everybody recommends you to live a balanced lifestyle, but what does that really mean?
Well, there’s no specific definition because balance depends on your current habits, your hobbies, your lifestyle (active or sedentary) and even your weight and age. It’s okay to experiment with different eating schedules and recipes as long as they’re healthy.
For example, some people have energy all day long when they eat a big breakfast; others may be better off with a smoothie or a small sandwich. In this case, it’s all up to you – just make sure that you stick to whatever fits you best.
Step #5: Find new emotional triggers
By now, we know that emotional eating is all about trying to regain control over your emotions and generally feel better.
So if you can’t use food to feel better, what else is left?
The best way to start substituting emotional eating is to find out what you really enjoy doing. Write down a list of activities you enjoy, things that you can actually do even during a pandemic: taking your dog out for a walk, listening to an uplifting song, reading a bit, cleaning, whatever suits you.
Then, every time you feel the need of emotional eating, check your list and see what you can do right in that moment to feel better. It may take some practice, but your brain will eventually form new, healthier associations.
Step #6: Ask for help
Changing emotional eating is a very tough challenge especially if you’ve been in this boat for a while.
But it doesn’t mean you should do it all alone.
Discussing your problem and goals with your loved ones can make a huge difference in how you’re feeling, as well as your motivation levels. Whether it’s your best friend, a parent or even an online community like ours, sharing your thoughts can be liberating and strengthening.
If you still feel overwhelmed by your current situation, you can always ask for professional help from a registered nutritionist.
The world is ready to help you, I promise.
All you have to do is ask.
How has your eating journey been so far during the pandemic? Share your answers in the comment section and let’s help each other get through this together!