Emotional eating is not an uncommon habit. Millions of people struggle with it, and they face consequences such as obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, and heart disease as a result. Not to mention the vicious cycle of stress and depression that comes along with it, as they battle the guilt induced with every unnecessary mouthful.
If you are ready to take your own emotional eating by the horns and beat it forever, here are four reasons many of us eat our feelings, and what you can do about it.
To Distract From Negative Emotions
How much negativity are you able to manage? Different people handle negative emotions on varying levels of severity, and for some of us that threshold is low. Unfortunately overeating can increase negative thoughts, which leads to more overeating.
What You Can Do: Begin to understand, accept, and let go of negative emotions as they occur. This takes practice and a great deal of mindfulness. Try keeping a journal that isolates when these negative emotions begin, and what triggers your emotional eating. You may be surprised by the answer.
To Cope With Stressful Situations
Likewise to negativity, stress can cause a serious increase in appetite, food cravings, and a reduction in self control. We have all heard of the “freshman fifteen”, a phenomenon where a student gains weight during their first year of college. But that same phenomenon can be sparked by any stressful time of life.
What You Can Do: Find alternative coping mechanisms for stress. Carve out a portion of your day for some alone time. Try exercise, such as at the gym. Take a hot bath. Get more sleep. Read a book. Begin meditation. Go out with friends. It might seem impossible to find time in your day to take care of yourself, but the alternative is taking much more time to deal with the impact on your health that your eating and other habits are causing.
To Continue Childhood Learned Behaviors
For many of us, emotional eating actually begins all the way back in childhood. It may be something as simple as being rewarded with food for good behavior, or as damaging as not having had enough to eat growing up and compensating now.
What You Can Do: Start by being mindful of your eating habits. Don’t eat in front of a computer or TV. Portion out servings and put away foods that may lead to grazing. Get rid of temptations around the home that you could eat without control.
To Battle Boredom
Sometimes eating just comes down to being bored. Trying to figure out when it is boredom or actual hunger can be a challenge for many people. It takes practice, but it is possible. Just like with childhood habits, it is a matter of being mindful of your body and needs.
What You Can Do: Ask yourself: “Do I want an apple?” If the answer is ‘no’ then you probably aren’t actually hungry. Try doing something else and seeing if the urge to eat fades.
Kevin Jones has mastered a busy lifestyle with work and fitness combined with family life. He writes offering solutions for personal fitness and time management as well as keeping families fit together by utilizing activities and diet. You can read more of Kevin’s writings by connecting with him online; LinkedIn – Twitter