Are You Feeding Your Emotions?
Are you an escapist? Do you feel the need to dive face-first into a big bag of chips or a bowlful of ice cream for the pure feeling of being comforted? Food tends to be a way of coping and dealing with the discomfort we experience. Experts believe that up to 75% of overeating may be due to reasons other than physical hunger. By practicing a little introspection you can usually figure out what is causing you to use food as a drug to silence your emotions. First, identify the triggers to emotional eating, such as:
Social Eating -- If you find that most of your social interaction involves food, then it's possible that you and your friends are using food to calm stress. Think about your activities, and consider offering new ideas to spend time with friends that do not involve food.
High Stress -- Whether it is job stress, family stress, or something else entirely being too busy and leading a stressful life causes a high level of the hormone Cortisol to be released into
the body, which in turn leads to cravings for high-calorie foods. Also, living a busy life lends itself to running through the drive-through. Preplanning for times of high stress and being busy can go far in eliminating making bad choices.
Habits -- Most of us have habits ingrained in us from childhood around food. That is where the whole idea of comfort foods came into being. Whether it's mac and cheese or a hearty bowl of beef stew, or something else entirely, the foods from our childhood can often comfort us and make us feel loved. Try redefining love to something more healthy such as a nice hot cup of tea and honey or going outside to play a game of tag.
How to Tame the Emotional Eating Beast
Make a Substitute -- Instead of binging on Doritos and cheese, find an alternative such as sliced crispy apples with sea salt. You'll get that crunchy satisfaction plus the salt you crave in a healthier way. Plus it's a lot harder to eat too many apples than too many chips.
Start a Journal -- Writing down everything that you eat, in addition to your feelings surrounding eating or choosing not to eat something you know is bad for you is a good way to channel your frustrations. Just keep a small notebook and pen in your purse so you can write any time you're tempted to reach for a donut instead of a more healthy choice.
Get Moving -- Studies show that getting even 30 minutes of exercise per day can help you with your weight, your cardiovascular health, and with reducing cravings. Any time you have a craving, drink a glass of water first, then if you still have it, get out and go for a walk, or turn up the music in the house and dance! The rush of endorphins will assist with resisting cravings and make you feel great.
Graphic from kptto.org
Don't beat yourself up!
Get in touch with your emotions, everyone has them! It is all in how you deal with them. If you do have an episode of emotional eating, learn from the experience and the very next meal eat healthily!
Need more advice? We have a wonderful team of fitness and nutrition experts that are just a mouse click away. You can click the button below to submit your questions electronically or, if you are local to the Chantilly, Fairfax, Centreville area and would like to talk to us about strategies for overcoming emotional eating, you can Request a Consultation.