In this blog we will cover what emotional eating is, how to recognize it and different ways to treat it.
What is Emotional Eating
Emotional eating is a response to stress. There are many different reasons why we eat. Physical hunger is when our body's blood sugar level drops and stimulates hunger hormones. Habitual eating occurs when we are used to eating a specific food at a specific time. For example, after dinner many people eat something sweet by habit and feel that without dessert, dinner isn't over. There are also other reasons, cultural, peer pressure...etc...etc...But, emotional eating differs from the rest. Emotional eating is just that, putting food in our mouths because of an emotion we're dealing with (or sometimes not dealing with). For me, it's ice cream.
Know the Triggers
Different emotions trigger different folks. Men tend to be more responsive to anger, frustration and disappointment. While women tend to react more to sadness, depression and anxiety. Is it work that is affecting you? Your relationship? Your mother in law? Different situations will stimulate different emotions. For me, it's work. After a long day of work, I would reach into the freezer for a pint of "forget my problems". It's really important to know where your triggers come from so you can properly plan to face them.
Willpower vs. Replacement
I've found there are two ways to combat emotional eating. The first is willpower. Imposing your will on the situation and just overcoming it. The other way of coping is replacing food with another activity.
If you choose this route, there are two very large tools in your box that will help you overcome this. The first is visualization. Visualize not eating. Visualize telling your friends you had the willpower to make it though. Talk to yourself and tell yourself how strong you are and how you can move through this.
Second, remember the outcome you're searching for. If you know that emotional eating is what keeps adding inches to your waist and you are not happy with those inches, then stay focused on keeping those inches off. Ask yourself, "Is this worth my goal?"
Replacement is a very effective tool for changing habits. Two tools in this box: Mental and Physical replacement. Mental replacement involves getting your mind off of eating: Yoga, Mindful Meditation, Exercise. The other is physical replacement, which is putting something in your mouth that is benign such as tea or chewing gum. Be mindful not to add extra calories here.
Although journaling is a necessity, it's something I highly recommend. If you are truly set on changing your habits and lifestyle then keeping track of your progress is going to be the key. Mistakes will happen. Life will get in the way. But don't give up. Keep truckin on and it will happen!