The term Emotional eating may sound new to some of you but it is in fact a condition that many people suffer from. Emotional eating is a state where your emotions and feelings start dictating your body distorting what to eat and how much to eat. Emotional eaters tend to crave high-calorie foods which are often referred to as “comfort foods” like chocolates, chips, cookies, ice cream, pizza, burgers and fries. It is a common problem seen in most men and women across the world and it accounts for about 75% of overeating. Emotional eaters eat food when they are depressed, stressed, sad, bored or frustrated. At most times, emotional eaters are unaware of the fact that they are eating for a way to escape or combat negative feelings.
Are you an emotional eater?
Answer the below questions:
1) Do you usually eat without thinking and then feel guilty after it?
2) Do you sometimes eat at irregular places- like in a parked car or in a quiet place somewhere alone?
3) Do you end up eating after having a stressful day or feeling depressed even if you weren’t hungry?
4) Do you eat because you are bored?
* If your answers were a “yes” then you might be a potential emotional eater.
How can I overcome this?
If you are able to admit to yourself that you are an emotional eater then you have passed step one. The next step to counter this problem is to identify your habits and develop skills to deal with situations which make you turn to food. These skills are simple but extremely effective.
– Drink more water. A lot of research has shown that sometimes we confuse our thirst with hunger and end up consuming unnecessary calories. Water will help quench your thirst and delay the sudden feeling of hunger. This will help you cut down on the unwanted sugar and carbs.
– Snack healthy. If you feel the urge to eat between meals, choose a healthy snack, such as fresh fruit, vegetables with low-fat dip, nuts or unbuttered popcorn. Or try lower calorie versions of your favorite foods to see if they satisfy your craving.
– Exercise. Exercising regularly helps control stress levels in the body. Since regular exercise lowers the amount of stress chemicals in the body and may even lead to a decrease in depression, anxiety and insomnia. In addition this will help decrease your tendency in engaging in emotional eating.
– Meditate. Meditation is also a powerful way to manage stress and therefore decrease emotional eating. Therefore, engaging in one or two meditation sessions a day can have lasting beneficial effects on your overall well-being.
– Stay busy. Instead of snacking when you’re not hungry, distract yourself and substitute an alternative behavior. Take a walk, watch a movie, play with your cat, listen to music, read, surf the internet or call a friend.
– Get support. Talking to a close family member or friend may help keep your mind away from unnecessary and excessive food intake; it will also help relieve you from your emotional turmoil.
When should I seek professional help?
If you’ve tried self-help options but you still can’t control emotional eating, consider therapy with a mental health professional. Therapy can help you understand why you eat emotionally and learn coping skills. Therapy can also help you discover whether you have an eating disorder, which can be connected to emotional eating.