Its obvious we eat when were hungry, but sometimes food is the bridge to get us through boredom, stress, or loneliness. Eating for "heart hunger" as opposed to physical hunger can leave us feeling worse and/or guilty. Of course this type of eating will come and go, but it's when emotional eating becomes a coping mechanism for events or feelings in your life. This kind of ongoing emotional eating can lead not only to weight gain, but also to an unhealthy relationship with food. Breaking this cycle can be tough. Below are 4 tips to begin breaking up with emotional eating.
1.) Practice Mindful Eating
Truly ask yourself - "Am I hungry?" If so then decide what it is you truly want - a small meal, a salty snack, some water? This technique helps you to become more present and listen to your hunger cues. If you are not truly hungry then acknowledge the feeling and distract yourself with a hobby to pass some time.
2.) Identify Your Triggers + Plan Ahead
Once you identify what triggers your emotional eating then you can have a plan for how to deal with these triggers without food. For instance - you are going to have busy and stressful week at work, so you plan your meals and snacks in advance to prevent mindless eating.
3.) Discover Fun Alternatives
Step away from the kitchen! Go for a walk, read a book, call a friend, or breathe deeply—these are just some examples of things you can do when emotional eating starts to take over. It's inevitable to have unpleasant feelings from time to time so finding your way to cope will take the focus off of food and give your body time to get its hormones back to normal.
4.) Be Accountable
Nobody likes keeping a food journal, but sometimes it’s a good idea to see just what you are eating and associated feelings. Journaling gives you something to reflect on. Reading about all the progress you have made and how you have overcome hard times can be motivating. Plus - keep your journal handy and it can serve as a way to take your mind off food if you feel an emotional eating binge coming around!