How to Stop Emotional Overeating
By Lana Bandoim
Do you reach for bags of potato chips and tubs of ice cream after a fight with a family member? Is the kitchen filled with junk food that provides comfort after a stressful day at work? Emotional overeating is using food to deal with negative feelings and stressful situations. However, it is possible to stop emotional overeating and break the cycle.
Find the Triggers
Specific events or emotions can trigger emotional overeating. Whether it is difficult to handle arguments with a loved one or impossible to get through a meeting at work without comfort food, your triggers may be unique. It is important to identify them and figure out how to stop them.
Stress, fights and illnesses are common triggers. In addition, boredom, fear, sadness and loneliness can encourage emotional overeating. Consider using a food journal to track emotional overeating during the week. Write down what you eat and how you feel. Use journaling to figure out the link between food and feelings.
Focus on Mindful Eating
Before emptying a bag of pretzels or finishing a plate of cookies, try to focus on mindful eating. First, stop and examine the food. Then, question why you are eating it. If the answer is not hunger, then evaluate the emotions during the moment and figure out the real reason you are eating.
Get rid of distractions during meals such as phones, TV screens or books. This will make food the only focus and encourage mindful eating. In addition, avoid using food as a way to fight boredom.
Dieting can create emotional problems and make people feel deprived. The shame and guilt of not being able to lose weight often creates an unhealthy relationship with food. Dieting also leads to binges because of unrealistic calorie restrictions.
Instead of dieting, focus on eating a healthy and balanced diet. Stop watching the scale in agony and counting every ounce that is lost or gained. Do not think of food as a reward or punishment. Change how you view food so it becomes an ally instead of an enemy.
Consider therapy or group counseling to deal with negative emotions. Nutritionists may also help identify triggers for emotional overeating and provide strategies for coping. In addition, reach out to friends and family members for support.
Emotional overeating does not have to take over your life. It is possible to fight it and have a normal relationship with food.
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