5 Simple Ways To Overcome Emotional Eating For Good
Susan, feeling frustrated and frantic, rushed into her home after work, tossed her things down on the counter, and headed to the pantry to a bag of chips and a chocolate bar. She had experienced anything but a good day, and she needed some comfort food to feel better.
“I deserve this!” Susan said out loud, reassuring herself that her actions were justified.
Susan, like many of us, was doing emotional eating.
Emotional eating is a very common problem and is often defined as the process of consuming large quantities of food to avoid feelings and emotions. Emotional eaters tend to consume comfort foods or nutrient poor foods. In order to overcome emotional eating, you must not only discover the root cause of your emotional eating, but it’s also important to make some key lifestyle changes to help you take control of it once and for all.
Root Causes of Emotional Eating
There are many possible root causes of emotional eating. Maybe you experienced past trauma, ranging from physical or emotional abuse to witnessing harm done to others. Or, maybe you were raised with a strict set of rules regarding what to eat, what not to eat, and when to eat. Maybe you are trying to fill an internal void with food because you’re lonely or you’re using it to avoid uncomfortable things you don’t want to come to terms with. Or, maybe you’re using food as a reward for getting through a frantic workday like Susan. Whatever the case, it’s important to step back from the pantry and think about why you’re about to grab your favorite comfort food before giving in to emotional eating.
Ask yourself, “Am I actually hungry?” If the answer is yes, then take a moment and opt for a healthier snack that will leave your body feeling nourished and refueled. If you answer “no” to that question, then ask yourself why you’re about to grab that comfort food. If it’s purely out of habit, because you’ve had a stressful day, or because you’re “rewarding” yourself for something, step away from the chips and follow these 5 simple exercises to help you overcome emotional eating for good.
When you start to focus on food as comfort, make a choice to get up and move instead. Start small with a simple exercise. Just getting up and walking outside for a few minutes is often enough to quiet those cravings and allow you white space to choose a different way to fulfill your needs. In addition, another good option is to briskly walk twice a week for 20 minutes. After that, bump that up to 3 times a week for 30 minutes and so on. It’s important to get outside, get some fresh air, and reconnect with nature. Use your walk to get lost in thought or ask a friend to join you so you can catch up!
Get Plenty of Rest
Getting a good night sleep can be challenging, but it can also help you take control of your emotional eating. Those who follow a regular sleep schedule have been shown to cope better with stress, a well-known causer of emotional eating. Creating a regular sleep routine can be one of the most effective changes you can make to improve your sleep habits, and you will give your body the ability to rest, restore, and heal itself. To make sleep a habit, make it a point to go to bed before 10:00 P.M. each night and wake up before 6:00 A.M. each morning. This will help your body get used to your new schedule.
Have Fun and Play
By having fun and moving around, you can improve your quality of life as an adult which can, in turn, help you tackle mental and emotional eating conditions. This is such an easy thing to do, but the ability to let go and have fun is often forgotten. Playing can help reduce stress, improve brain function, stimulate the mind and boost creativity, and even improve relationships and connections with others – all things that can help you overcome emotional eating.
Take Care of Yourself
Self-care is another often overlooked concept, especially for those with busy schedules (who has the time?!), but it is so important for those turning to food to soothe them. Many people tend to put family, friends, work, and the community first and forget to take care of themselves. It’s okay, we’ve all been there. It’s important that you take time to fill up your “tank” by practicing self-care. If you give to the point of depletion, you’ll have nothing left to give and may look to fill up your “tank” with food instead.
Try checking in with yourself throughout the day, taking time to consciously breathe, going for a walk, taking a long bath, reading a book, sitting outside to take in nature. And don’t forget to pause and take a moment when you feel yourself starting to stress out. These simple things can help you make sure you’re giving yourself the TLC you really need in just minutes each day!
This sounds anything but simple, right? Stress is a natural part of life, and many people carry it around in abundance day in and day out. When this stress isn’t properly managed, it can lead to weight gain, hormone imbalances, chronic inflammation, and more. Not to mention, stress causes many people to turn to comfort food as a coping mechanism. To help take control of your stress, try practicing deep breathing exercises, meditate, do an activity that helps you decompress, make a point to laugh more, exercise, practice gratitude and mindfulness, and don’t forget to practice self-care as well.
To Wrap it Up
By making a point to stay aware of your emotional eating condition, where it stems from, and the conscious lifestyle changes that can help you overcome the urge to cope using food, you will be much better equipped to handle all that life throws your way. Remember — here at ITN, we focus on personalization, so make sure to tailor these steps in a way that will best work for you! Are you an emotional eater? Which ONE step from this post do you think will benefit you the most? Share in the comments below!
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