I have always been an emotional eater for as long as I can remember. I use food as a way to deal with my feelings. Sweets are my go too. What is emotional eating?
Emotional hunger comes on suddenly. It will hit you instantly, feels overwhelming and urgent. You crave specific comfort foods. I crave chocolate and sweets like crazy. Then emotional eating turns into mindless eating. When you are an emotional eater you often don’t realize you ate the entire pint of ice cream then immediately feel the guilt and regret of how much you ate.
So how do we stop eating due to emotional reasons? First knowing you had a problem with emotional eating is a huge first step but then we have to identify your triggers. Common causes of emotional eating include:
1. Being bored or lonely. I find that I snack the most when I am bored and when I am alone. It gives me something to do and I know I’m not hungry just bored.
2. Eating to avoid your emotions. Sometimes I notice if I am sad, or angry I will go to the fridge or pantry and find something to snack on to drown out those emotions.
3. Habits from your childhood. Maybe you grab a certain snack or food that bring nostalgia or its something that you always had when you got a reward or when you were sad.
4. Stress. This is a big one for me, I am 100% a stress eater. This one is the hardest for me to break.
Once you know your triggers then you can work on finding healthy way to feed those feelings without food. There are alternatives to emotional eating. You bored? Watch a TV show, read a book, do a DIY project, or anything to keep you busy. If you’re tired try a warm bath, some tea, or even a nap. Anxious? Try taking a walk, listen to some music, meditate, or get a weighted blanket. Are you depressed or lonely? Try to journal your thoughts and if they are something you don’t want anyone to ever find try burning it when you’re done. Maybe call or text someone who can help raise your spirits, or play with an animal.
My biggest struggle with stress/emotional eating is knowing if I was truly hungry or is it just emotional? Emotional eating tends to be automatic. True hunger comes on gradually. I was always told that when I want food to put it off for 5 minutes. When you are waiting you can ask yourself how you are doing? Are you upset, stressed, lonely anything that could trigger the response for emotional eating. If you do realize you are stress eating it doesn’t mean you can’t have the snack but at least you recognize that you aren’t truly hungry.
I find myself wanting sweets more so at night, but also when I am bored or when I’m stressed. I’m actually the opposite when I am depressed I just want to sleep. I try to keep healthy snacks in the house and not a bunch of sweets because that is when I just end up mindlessly eating. I started keeping a food journal. I want to lose weight so I am going to keep a food journal for a week so I can see what areas I need to focus on.
I will take control over my eating and my health by learning when I am actually hungry and when I am just bored or stressed. I know this is a common issue but I really get down on myself when I eat a bunch of stuff that I know I don’t need. I have to stop being so hard on myself and accept that this is just part of who I am and this is just another piece of my journey.