In this post, you’ll learn about how to avoid emotional eating.
The vast majority of people are under a fair amount of stress each day.
Studies show stress leads to poor food choices, including emotional eating.
As a result of this, people struggle with their weight.
Worldwide obesity levels are currently higher than ever before. And, health experts even more concerned about weight.
Emotional eating contributes to obesity and countless other health issues. The effects are mostly physical, but can also be mental.
Because of this, it helps to understand what emotional eating is, and more importantly, how to avoid it.
Let’s dive in.
What is emotional eating?
Emotional eating is an eating pattern or habit where people eat to ease negative feelings and emotions.
It’s also known as comfort eating.
The easiest way to explain emotional eating is this:
Imagine a scenario where you have had a long and stressful day at work.
You feel tired, you feel low. And the last thing you want to do is cook and eat something healthy.
Instead, you simply want to jump into your sweat pants. And lounge on the sofa, and order yourself an XL pizza with extra cheese.
Tiredness is often a trigger for emotional eating.
Other triggers are stress, anger, depression, and even feelings of happiness.
While the occasional treat now and then is fine, emotional is not. Because it tends to be frequent and involve poor food choices.
If you find yourself eating unhealthy food often, and for the wrong reason, you can make a few changes.
How to prevent emotional eating
In this next section we’re going to look at several ways to help prevent emotional eating:
1. Know your triggers
Different people comfort eat for different reasons.
One of the most effective things you can do to prevent emotional eating is to know the triggers.
Once you know what triggers your cravings, you can alter your behavior and your lifestyle to help avoid them.
Several scientific studies have found that emotional eating has many triggers.
It’s helpful to know them in advance so you can avoid them in the future.
2. Keep yourself busy
Another very effective way of preventing emotional eating is to keep yourself busy.
Distract yourself if you feel the cravings kicking in.
If you find yourself feeling emotional and craving unhealthy foods, divert your focus.
Try to find something to distract yourself and stay busy.
As long as you stay busy and keep your mind preoccupied, you will benefit.
3. Review eating habits
For people looking to prevent emotional eating, another proven strategy is to look at the way you eat.
By this, we mean look at the speed at which you eat, where you choose to eat your meals, and the portions you serve yourself.
What are the other habits that you associate with comfort eating?
If for example, you notice that you tend to emotionally eat when you go back for a second serving, be mindful of this.
And ensure that you don’t go back for a second helping.
If you want to get this under control you could even go ahead and only prepare enough food for one meal.
4. Separate hunger from emotion
One effective strategy in the fight against emotional eating is to separate hunger from emotion. Here’s why.
Hunger, for example, is the body’s way of telling us that it physically needs energy for it to function at its best.
If you find yourself feeling upset, often you will crave junk food.
This is because your body and brain are so used to receiving junk food whenever you feel upset.
Once you can distinguish between the two, you’ll find it much easier to control your eating habits.
5. Remind yourself of your goals
When people struggle with emotional eating, it affects their weight.
If you are an emotional eater and are struggling with your weight, weight loss will likely be your goal.
The next time you are craving junk food, clear your mind.
And remind yourself of your goal and visualize yourself leaner and imagine how great you’ll feel.
6. Create an eating schedule
For most emotional eaters, cravings for junk will come out of nowhere.
This is because we can find our emotions changing all the time.
All it can take is one misplaced comment. Or one misbehaving child to trigger cravings for comfort food.
To help you avoid emotional eating, create an eating schedule, and stick to it.
This will help ensure that you aren’t hungry, and by having a routine you’ll be more likely to stick to it until it becomes a habit.