Hunger isn’t the only reason people start eating. People can eat out of boredom or loneliness, but they can also stress eat or emotionally eat, and none of these reasons end in healthy food choices. Emotional eating is quite common and used to make yourself feel better. You think that ice cream will lift your spirits or that a pizza will boost your mood. The reality is that your body pays the price for your emotional eating decisions.
What Is Emotional Eating?
Quite simply, people use food to make themselves feel better, as opposed to eating to satisfy hunger. The mind can often interpret emotional eating as a reward, causing the body to crave the unhealthy foods that are typically consumed when stressed or emotionally overwhelmed. The sad truth is that you cannot satisfy emotional hunger. It worsens when eating becomes the first response to negative thoughts or feelings. That indicates that change needs to happen.
How To Identify Emotional Or Physical Hunger?
- Stress Eating: Stress commonly causes cravings for fatty, sugary, and high-calorie foods. The craving is often very specific. You don’t just want chips; rather, you want a specific bag of chips that you had at a street fair in 2007.
- Emotional Eating: Emotional eating sneaks up on you quickly and causes you to crave something out of the blue. One minute you’ll be working on the computer, and the next you’ll have to have nachos in front of you.
- Physical Hunger: When you are physically hungry, you are able to consider several options to satiate you, and you can even make healthier decisions. Physical hunger also comes on gradually, and you can acknowledge when you are comfortably full.
When emotions control your eating, you don’t listen to your stomach and you end up overeating. It is possible to practice mindful eating and change your emotional habits that have steered you away from healthy eating. To regain control over your eating habits and emotions, use the following tips.
Awareness Is Key:
Being aware of what and when you are eating is a great first step toward normalizing eating habits. Reading this article is a great first step toward awareness, assuming that emotional is an issue for you. It is crucial to practice mindful eating because emotional eating is often referred to as “mindless eating.” Before you can eat mindfully, you have to be aware of how you feel right before you reach for that candy bar. Maintain a food journal to help you eat mindfully, and start practicing mindfulness exercises like mediation or deep breathing. If you want to eat because you’re stressed, try cleaning your room or exercising instead of gorging on food.
Wait It Out:
People who stress eat feel as though they need to satisfy their hunger immediately, otherwise the craving will intensify. When you practice delaying your urge to eat, you’ll find that the craving passes. Make a pact with yourself to wait out your craving and not give in to your emotions. Allow the craving to pass and move on.
Identify Your Emotional Trigger:
What makes you reach for food to seek comfort? People can turn to food to bottle up emotions they don’t want to deal with, to relieve boredom, or to fill a void. Numbing yourself with food or using it as a distraction may not only lead to weight gain, but also serious emotional distress that takes a toll on the body’s organs and systems. You have to find other ways to feed your feelings.
Unlearn Your Bad Habits:
Much like any bad habit, emotional eating can be reversed if you work at it. The problem with frequent stress eating is that you are often eating bad food before you realize it. Once you can identify your emotional trigger, you can begin to unlearn your habit of reaching for unhealthy food. It can take time, but you can do it!
Try Healthy Alternatives:
If you try all the tips in this article and nothing seems to work, indulge your cravings with healthier options. If you crave a sugary soda, opt for plain sparkling water; choose celery or carrot sticks with hummus instead of a bag of chips; or enjoy a nibble of dark chocolate instead of eating an entire chocolate muffin.