The secrets to conquering emotional eating
Emotional eating is the action of eating food when you are not physically hunger. Emotional eating is a condition where you use food to fill an emotional void you are feeling. Stress or a life changing experiences can provoke emotional eating. If you are under stress or feeling down or depressed and the first thought that comes to your mind is “Are there any cookies left in the cookie jar?” you probably are eating emotionally rather than out of natural nutritional need for your body. Instead, you are trying to use food to nourish your heart and mind.
Many people have experienced this and it can be as addicting as such diseases like alcoholism or drug use. One might say that food is an emotional eater’s drug of choice.
The first step in conquering emotional eating is awareness. Becoming aware that you have an eating disorder is half the battle to making positive changes in your life to overcome this dangerous habit.
Once you are aware of the problem there are some action steps you can do to take back control of your life.
I will list some action steps that can help you work through this and ultimately be free from this.
1. Journaling-You can start a journal by first keeping a running record of each time you feel the urge to turn to food to cope with any emotional problems you are dealing with. You can record the date and time you are experiencing the urge to run for that pint of ice cream or whatever food you find comfort in when dealing with life’s stressors. As you are keeping this journal, you may find some useful information about what stressors trigger your reaching out for food rather than other possible healthier de-stressors.
2. Clean out the kitchen. This is the time to take an in depth inventory of what your kitchen holds that keeps you running in circles with food. Clear out the cupboards, the refrigerator and seek out to replace the foods you normally turn to with healthier alternatives.
3. Use the buddy system. Find a friend you can trust and explain that you are working on making a positive change in your life and ask this person to be available to you as much as possible to talk to and hold you accountable to your goal.
4. Go easy on yourself. There will come times when the stress of life can be too much and you may falter. Do not beat yourself up about it. Journaling about it can help you understand some of the causes for your overeating habits and help you move on towards your goal. Keep working at it and remember that making a lifestyle change takes time. Baby steps are sometimes all you can do but they are still steps moving forward.
5. Try something new every day. Indulge in a new activity or experiment with foods that are healthy that you have never tried before. Allow your taste buds to try out and savor new tastes. You may have been in a rut, eating the same foods for a long time and trying something new may help.
6. Set a routine. Eat six smaller meals over the course of the day, incorporating a balanced diet of proteins, healthy carbs and fat. By making sure you are eating, a balanced diet can curb the cravings.
7. Drink plenty of water. Try to drink a tall glass of water every time you head for the fridge on an emotional binge. Drink the water first and wait. You may find yourself too full to add those chips.
8. Make a promise to yourself to eat only at the dinner table. In our hurry-hurry fast paced world with fast food restaurants and convenience stores on every corner it is easy to overeat and pack in the calories on foods that do more harm than good.
These are a few action steps that can help you fight this condition. Just remember food does serve a purpose in our life. It is like gas for your car. Food is the fuel that provides you energy to live. Remember this. It is healthier when you eat to live and not live to eat.