Emotional Eating : Here's How to Stop Eating Your Feelings
You made it to the end of the week on your new diet! Congrats! You’ve been so meticulous with weighing all your food, cutting out the “dirty” foods, and sticking to your calorie goal. But now it’s Friday, work was AWFUL, you have your period, and all you want is Mexican food.
You decide to have a cheat meal. One meal won’t throw you off and you’ll just get right back to your diet post cheat! It’s harmless…. Right?
It IS harmless if it’s just the fajitas.. But when the fajitas turn into a jumbo margarita and then the margarita becomes a big bowl of ice cream when you get home and then the ice cream becomes cookies because oh my gosh you miss cookies… Well, now there’s a problem.
Emotional eating is such a common problem for women and it can really mess up your diet and your long term health if you continuously struggle with it!
There are a couple ways to put a stop to emotional eating but the first step is realizing that this problem is almost entirely psychological. In order to combat the urge to eat your feelings, you have to make mindset shifts:
1. Figure out what triggers your emotional eating.
Most people eat emotionally in response to one or a couple very specific feelings or events. For some, work stress leads to the most binging. For others, it may be struggles within their relationship. Some might overeat when they feel down or depressed. And still, others might use food as a form of celebration when they’re happy. Understanding your triggers allows you to get ahead of this before it happens. Recall the last time you ate emotionally and why you think it may have happened - the REAL reason… were you upset with a friend? Is it something that happens on your busiest work day of the week?
2. Make sure that you’re incorporating the foods into your diet that you generally go to when you’re eating emotionally.
This might seem counterintuitive but you actually need to make sure you’re eating the foods that you have cravings for! If you eliminate or severely restrict your intake of the foods you crave, it will only lead to you overeating when you DO allow yourself the occasional treat. Rather than taking the foods you love out of your diet, relax your approach to allow for these foods in moderate amounts. This creates the connection that these foods are actually not special treats or tools saved only to heal/celebrate how you’re feeling. Rather they are simply things you already enjoy regularly without serious restrictions.
3. Look for more productive ways to address your feelings.
If you eat when you’re stressed, make a point to do something relaxing. Get a pedicure or a massage. Take a bath with a good book. If you eat when you’re angry or upset, instead try going for a run or heading to the gym to lift weights. A solid sweat session is often the best medicine. If you eat in celebration, try instead to do something fun with friends, go see a movie you’ve been waiting to see, or treat yourself to a shopping trip. There are so many ways to tackle your emotions that don’t involve eating them.
4. Talk to a friend.
We often turn to food as a way to avoid acknowledging the pain we feel. So how do we attack the source of the problem? We need to confront our feelings head on. When you’re angry, upset, hurting, or stressed, call a friend who you know will be there to let you vent. You don’t have to let your feelings consume you but you do need to allow them to exist. Talking about the hard stuff with someone close to you is a healthy way to analyze how you’re feeling and then move on - no food required.
Food is a way to put a bandaid on a wound that needs a lot more attention. It’s so important for your mental and physical health that you tackle your feelings in a way that doesn’t do harm to your body. Take time to understand your personal triggers and form a solid game plan to address your feelings head on.