A lot of us turn to food for comfort when we’ve hit a rough patch emotionally or are feeling particularly low. These food cravings, which are triggered by your emotions, often lead us to load up on calories sweets and fatty foods. Emotional eating makes you eat mindlessly and makes you feel as if you have no control over yourself. But here is the good news — you can take control of your eating habits if you understand how the process works.
What Is Emotional Eating?
Ever reached out for a bar of chocolate when you were feeling sad? Or maybe finished a whole brick of ice-cream because you were feeling stressed out? If your answer to any of these situation is yes, you’re guilty of emotional eating.
Emotional eating makes you crave for food even when you aren’t really hungry. It’s a coping mechanism wherein your body tries to distract you with food. It’s how you think you can meet your emotional needs. It’s as if you’re trying to eat your feelings away.
Often it leaves you feeling worse because you blame yourself for consuming extra calories. If you’re working on your fitness, it’s going to meddle with your diet and nutrition sending all your fitness goals in a tizzy.In the process, you also fail to address the real underlying issues that you need to contemplate about. It’s a vicious cycle that takes a toll on your mental as well as physical health.
Emotional Eating Triggers:
For each individual, their emotional eating triggers might be different. But the root cause for all problems related to emotional eating is common: negative emotions. Fear, sadness, loneliness, anger, frustration or stress can make you turn to emotional eating. Some common emotional eating triggers include:
- Problems in relationship
- Financial Crunch
- Health issues
- Social isolation
- Boredom or Feeling of Emptiness
The first step to fighting emotional eating is to identify your triggers. Reflect a little and observe your own behavior. Which situations or feelings make you crave comfort food? Once you identify what triggers emotional eating in you, you need to find other ways of taking care of those emotions in a healthier way.
Breaking Free From Emotional Eating:
Emotional eaters see food as the only way to manage their emotions. So, it becomes difficult to control their eating habits as well. Most dietitians and fitness experts give advice which requires you to be mindful and conscious about what you are eating. But emotional eating hijacks these fitness goals, as emotional eaters see food as an instant payoff.
If you want to stop this cycle of instant gratification, you need to find ways to fulfill your emotional needs. It’s a necessity to understand your triggers, but just knowing them is not enough. You need to act on it, and find alternatives for emotional fulfillment.
- For depression or loneliness, it is best to call a trusted friend with whom you can share your feelings.
- For anxiety, it is best to expend all the nervous energy in the body by taking a relaxing walk or dancing away all the blues.
- For those who feel exhausted, it is important to pamper themselves. Treat yourself with a relaxing massage session, a bath or amp up the ambience by lighting some scented candles.
- For boredom, it is a good idea to turn to any activity you enjoy. Paint a picture, play guitar, read a good book, watch a comedy show or just explore your neighborhood.
To fight emotional eating, you must allow yourself to feel comfortable with your emotions. You may feel that you will feel powerless if you engage with your emotions truthfully. It feels scary, but believe me, once you stop obsessing or suppressing your emotions, even the most painful feelings will subside.
Another way is to push yourself to promise yourself to only eat healthy foods when you’re feeling a sudden burst of emotions. This will require a lot of discipline, but eventually, you’ll fight it strongly.
What do you think about emotional eating? Please share with me your experiences in the comments section.