How to control emotional eating

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Answered by: Rita, An Expert in the About Emotional Eating Category
We’ve all been there: nibbling on a few carrot sticks, reaching for a handful of nuts, and the next thing we know, we’ve consumed an entire box of chocolates! In this article we will focus on how to address emotional eating.

It is a well-known fact that our emotions are tied with our eating habits. Often we’ll have stronger food cravings when we are emotionally weak, which will make us reach for an unhealthy treat to distract us from our current emotions.

People have different triggers for emotional eating, some may be triggered by anger, stress, sadness, loss, loneliness, fatigue and even boredom. One negative effect of emotional eating is weight-gain, which often leads to more emotional eating, due to the guilt of overeating. The good news is that you can control emotional eating by taking several steps to regain control of your unhealthy eating habits.

In order to manage emotional eating, it is advisable to keep a food diary where you can write down exactly what you eat, how much you eat and when you eat. You can also record how you are feeling before and after you’ve eaten and how hungry you are. Keeping a food dairy will be very insightful over time, to assist in making a connection between your eating habits and emotions.

If you don’t keep junk food in your house, you can't binge on unhealthy food. Keeping only healthy food in your house will prevent you from snacking on something when you are feeling emotional. Determine if your hunger is physical or emotional and if it’s emotional try to drink a glass of water or eat a healthy snack, in order to get your hunger/craving under control.

Having a healthy snack between meals, such as fresh fruit or vegetables, will help managing emotional eating. Don’t deprive yourself from food and make sure you eat satisfying amounts of healthy food with each meal.

It will be beneficial for you to practice a stress management technique, such as meditation or yoga, if you feel stressed, to curb emotional eating. Make a list of things that stresses you out and then consider a plan of action to take control of each situation. Also consider some light exercise, like going for a walk, since moving around is a proven way to reduce stress.

Rather adopt a holistic healthier lifestyle by exercising, listening to good music, spending time with friends or family, instead of snacking when you are bored.

Don’t beat yourself up over emotional eating, this will only increase your stress levels, which will lead to more emotional eating. Instead, start fresh the following day and learn from your emotional eating mistake. Give yourself credit for making positive changes in your lifestyle.

If you have spent time and effort to control your emotional eating, but still can’t manage to get it under control, consider talking to a counselor. Therapy can help you better understand what the underlying factors are for your emotional eating and provide you with the needed skills on how to control emotional eating.

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