Best Ways to Combat Emotional Eating
The first thing to note in emotional eating is that you are not alone. Many men and women struggle with this issue at some point in their lives.
When you are experiencing emotional eating, try to think of other ways that you can connect with your emotions or release them instead of turning to food.
Overcoming emotional eating is not easy. It is definitely a journey to identify triggers and begin to relieve stress in a healthy way.
In this blog post, I will give you 6 ways to control emotional eating or at least get a head start. So definitely try at least one of the options below to begin your journey to combat your emotional eating:
Physical health correlates greatly with mental health. The stress-relieving nature of regular exercise can help reduce cortisol levels and release dopamine in the brain which is responsible for feelings of pleasure and happiness.
Exercise also helps to aid in weight loss and improve moods over time making it easier to cope with challenging situations without needing food as a stress relief.
Walking or Running
Walking or running can turn a stressful day into an opportunity to experience victory over your emotional eating. Plus, it's relatively inexpensive and you get to be outside. Getting outside is great because research suggests that spending time in natural environments outdoors can improve your mood.
There's something sweet about putting down your phone and practicing deep breathing. If you've never given yoga a try, now is the time. The word "yoga" originates from the Sanskrit meaning to yoke or unite (the mind, body and spirit). On a physical level, yoga exercises increase our circulation and get us breathing better.
On a mental level, yoga counteracts anxiety and depression by helping us realize how small we really are in comparison with the vastness of the world around us; it teaches that we find joy in this life not through getting what we want but by wanting what we have for ourselves for others.
The benefits of yoga can include improving flexibility, boosting self-confidence, and reducing stress levels.
Nothing feels better than getting in a good sweat. During high-intensity intervals, your body is constantly in motion and working at the highest level. These short bursts of energy push your heart rate towards its maximum to provide benefits such as fat-burning and cardiopulmonary improvements.
Additionally, because you are constantly pushing yourself in a high-intensity interval workout the risk of injury decreases compared to a full hour or more of lower intensity activity.
2) Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is awareness of the present moment without judgment. Mindfulness practice involves cultivating greater degrees of openness, noticing how thoughts, feelings, and body sensations are constantly changing from one to the next.
Mindfulness is not about stopping or controlling mental activity but rather accepting it for what it is--a natural process that will inevitably change over time.
Focus on your food
When you do eat, a great way to pay attention and practice mindful eating is to keep a food diary. Food diaries are usually just a list of everything you've put into your body that day. If you want to up your food diary a notch I would try to practice also recording what you were feeling while eating.
Recording the foods they are eating, they may recognize patterns or realize how much or little they are actually eating. Eventually, this knowledge can help someone make better decisions about their diet, leading to weight loss and a potentially healthier lifestyle.
Yoga is a great way to meditate, but you also don't have to be in a yoga class to experience mindfulness meditation. Meditation is helpful because when we focus on something else, such as our breath or a mantra (repeated phrase), it allows us to acknowledge and release any pent-up emotions. We shift our mind from thinking about foods thus putting a stop to our emotional eating.
Take a Bath
Regular baths are great for stress reduction and relaxation. The warmth of the water can help release tension in your muscles, which brings peace to both body and mind.
This is a great way for you to take time out for yourself and relax so that when cravings hit they won't seem as strong or enticing. Plus, it's pretty nice just taking some alone to reflect on your life and improve your healthy lifestyle.
3) Get a New Hobby
There's no better way to learn yourself and cultivate a healthy lifestyle than trying a new hobby. Hobbies are an outlet for creativity that offers a unique challenge in ways that can't be found in other areas.
Hobbies also offer something different to think about, which will divert your attention away from your eating habits and divert your triggers for emotional eating.
Drawing can be a fun hobby to learn and it takes time to master. Sometimes, drawing is the only way to get your feelings out of your head and onto paper. You can draw things that make you happy or sad or grateful, and they will come out in the lines of your drawings.
Utilizing something outside of yourself can help move emotions from one place to another more easily, which might be just what you need when you're feeling overwhelmed on a tough day.
Writing is a way to explore your ideas and thoughts in detail, allowing for greater clarity.
Writing also has many benefits like reducing stress levels, clearing the mind of negative thoughts, and easing tension in the body which will enhance creativity.
When you feel that emotional "need" coming through this outlet might be exactly what puts up an invisible shield that stops us from turning to food for comfort during hard times. A journal can be used as both therapy and a record of recent events.
Reading is great for stress. You can get lost in another story or world that usually your emotional eating temptations will fade. Reading improves our mental health is by giving time for quiet contemplation—time we might not otherwise have during a busy day since we're usually distracted and taking in information from many sources at once.
Reading can also cultivate empathy, that all-important virtue that will allow us to understand —and then be tolerant of–– those who disagree with or oppose us on an issue. And empathy isn't binary: someone with empathy will be able to see both sides as genuine but different perspectives.
4) Talk to a Friend
If you find yourself struggling with emotional eating, it might be time to talk with someone you trust about how you are feeling. When we have connections—real friendships and warm connections—we're better equipped for mental and emotional support when things get tough.
Think through a few trusted friends or people in your life that you could invite in to listen to your story. Is there someone out there that you could share your stress or emotions with instead of mindlessly eating? Friends will help you talk through your feelings and lower stress levels.
There's something so helpful in knowing that we are not alone in our struggles. Usually, when you open up to friends or a family member they will also share with you their struggles. It could deepen your relationship and help you to control emotional eating in your life.
Seek A Counselor
Sometimes, it's best to see a counselor especially if you are struggling with a binge eating disorder. Counselors or a mental health professional will help you to not only handle your emotional eating but also give therapy for underlying issues that might be triggering the behavior.
It's important to know that it is okay if you feel like seeking outside help with a counselor because their job will be to listen and help create healthier habits for dealing with stress or emotions when they come up.
It might be scary at first but so many mental health professionals want to see you find freedom from your eating habits and stop emotional eating altogether in your life. Also, they can help provide medical advice and explain the food science behind junk foods and comfort foods.
Lastly, counselors or therapists can help you with deep breathing exercises and meditation to practice to help quell the triggers for your emotional eating.
5) Get Good Sleep
Sleep is important because it does a lot for our emotional and physical well-being. Getting enough sleep has been shown to help reduce weight gain, may lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, may help prevent Alzheimer's disease. In addition, research also shows that getting enough sleep can improve mood and memory too.
You won't be able to make healthy choices without getting a good night's rest.
Find Healthy Rhythms
Watching tv before bed is a common habit for many people, however to have a more restful sleep we recommend not watching tv before bed because the light that emits from our screens can be stimulating to us and prevent sleepiness for many people.
Instead, try reading a book or listening to meditation music to help you relax instead of mindlessly binge eating comfort foods late at night. Try winding down with some stretching and getting in a good bedtime routine.
We recommend sleeping at least seven to eight hours a night.
Take a Break for Social Media
It's no shock that we tend to compare ourselves to friends, family, and influencers all over social media when we are mindless scrolling before bed. That blue light that emits from our phones is keeping us awake and our minds racing through the comparison trap is just adding to us staying awake.
To get better sleep, we urge you to try taking a break from social media for a few days or weeks to help you sleep better and feel less stress.
It might be hard at first but taking a break will help your emotional eating habits because it's not always healthy to compare yourself to others on social media or binge eat every night before bed.
6) Replace Foods
Junk food or comforts are easier to eat when they are readily available in your home. Food choices are often limited to what is on hand. Emotional eating can lend itself to weight gain so if you are trying to shave off a few pounds, replacing foods in your home/office can be helpful to combat emotional eating.
You'll notice your weight loss goals are easier to achieve when you change up the snacks around your house.
If you are an emotional eater, try tossing out the unhealthy foods in your home. Once you've taken the deep dive to clean out your pantry and fridge you can begin to stock up on healthy choices at the grocery store.
Try a low-fat dip with veggies, fresh fruit, and nuts for snacks. Additionally, some of your favorite foods can be tweaked to be healthier options for you during the moments when you want to emotionally eat.
Think spaghetti squash, bun-less burgers, fish tacos, and baked sweet potato fries. The opportunities are endless to create new healthy comfort foods and not feel guilty about your meals.
Emotional eating can be a difficult habit to break. Luckily, you are not alone. There are some methods that you can use to help combat the urge to eat for reasons other than hunger.
The first step is recognizing the difference in your hunger and then taking steps towards combating it with one of these six options:
Exercise, practicing mindfulness, getting a new hobby, talking to a friend or family member, seeking counseling, replacing unhealthy foods, and getting a good night's sleep.
Tell us in the comments below what has worked for you.
Cheers in Health,
~TEAM VVS NUTRITION~