Would you like to stop your emotions from controlling your eating habits?
Emotional eating can be used to comfort yourself during a difficult or stressful period, or it can be used to reward yourself. Emotional hunger comes on quickly and leaves the individual wanting high calorific and fatty foods.
A study published in the Journal of Eating Disorders 2018 showed that promoting exercise, mindful eating, and emotional regulation can help someone to stop relying on food to fulfil an impulsive need.
Being aware of feeling hungry allows you to pause between wanting to eat and actually eating. It’s common for people to reach for the nearest and most convenient food available to them, peeling an orange is more time consuming than opening a bag of crisps. Pausing before you reach for food allows your mind to think twice about what the healthiest and most fulfilling option is.
Wynne Armand MD suggests asking yourself if you are really hungry before reaching for a snack. Check to see if what you’re feeling is really boredom, stress, or tiredness. Is food really the best option for you right now?
Keeping a food journal can help you to see your eating patterns. After a while, you will begin to see what is trigging your need to eat and what kind of foods you are consuming.
Often, we eat because we are bored or feeling lonely, we want something to do and the food is a quick fix. However, rather than reach for the biscuit tin, try calling a friend, go for a walk, exercise, or read a book.
Perhaps a good night’s sleep is what you need, treat yourself to a candlelit bath, a cup of tea, and an early night.
Not only are these healthy alternatives, but your mental state will improve as you take time to enjoy an activity and the satisfaction that you have avoided the sugary treats.
A good way to avoid eating unhealthy foods is not to buy them in the first place. Try writing a shopping list of the foods that are good for your body and stick to the items on the list. Don’t allow yourself to go down the sweetie aisle and get distracted by temptation.
It’s a good idea to not shop when you’re hungry. If you do you are more likely to want to buy spontaneously and you’re likely to be drawn towards foods that are not healthy.
If you’re really struggling to take control of your eating, then it is a good idea to talk to a trusted friend or family member. Share your concerns and ask them to support you in making healthier choices. Perhaps they’ll keep you company on that walk or come food shopping with you.
If trying self-help options is not working for you, then speaking to your doctor or a counsellor could be a healthy and wise decision. It can be hard to admit that you need help, but you won’t be the first, or last, person that has needed help with their emotions and diet.
It’s not easy to avoid sugary and tasty treats when we wish to reward or comfort ourselves. But with the self-care techniques above it’s a good way to start taking better care of your health. If you do lapse, then start afresh. We all suffer setbacks, but what’s important is how we deal with these. Don’t beat yourself up, carry on and try again.