In a poll on emotional eating, 81 percent of FitSugar readers confessed that they eat as a reaction to anxiety, stress, or sadness. While I think that many of us can admit to doing this occasionally, a long history or consistent habit of emotional eating can be problematic. Instead of dealing with the issue at hand, emotional eaters mask their feelings — temporarily — with food. To get control over emotional eating, individuals first need to understand why it happens. Once you understand the characteristics of emotional eating, the next step is to regain control in your patterns. Here are some ways to regain control of your eating habits:
- Figure out your triggers: Keep a food journal of what you eat, when you eat, and why you eat it (this one is the most difficult). Knowing your motivations for why you eat will make you conscious of your triggers, and you can begin to change your patterns.
- Understand why you feel hungry: Physical hunger comes on slowly, and emotional hunger comes on quickly and is intense. Pay attention to how your stomach feels: is it rumbling and empty? Try waiting out the craving and see if the hunger subsides.
- Find other ways to take care of yourself: It's important that you "feed" yourself in other ways aside from food. Take a walk, call a friend, or any other healthy activity that soothes you. Keep a list of alternatives to refer to when in the midst of a craving.
- Banish junk food: Stock your pantry and fridge with healthy foods. If there are no cookies, chips, or ice cream in your house, the chances drop considerably that you will eat and overeat those foods.
- Do eat: Make sure that you are eating a well-balanced diet with complex carbs, protein, and healthy fats. When you fill up on healthy foods, you will be better able to determine emotional hunger from physical hunger.
- Be healthy: I know this one seems obvious, but take good care of yourself. Exercise regularly and get adequate sleep. Hunger, lack of sleep, and lack of exercise can make you moody, and when you're a cranky pants, it's harder to manage your cravings and combat the stresses that often lead you to reach for food for comfort.
There are a few more tips, so read more.