I am sure you have all made New Year’s Resolutions……how are you getting on? Have you kept them or broken them? I encourage my clients to constantly set goals rather than waiting to make resolutions once a year. I also find that emotional eating can be one of the biggest reasons why people’s Healthy New Year’s Resolutions fail. Emotional Eating is when we turn to food for comfort, stress relief, or as a reward rather than to satisfy hunger. Most emotional eaters feel powerless over their food cravings so we are going to discuss its triggers and give you some tips to help you fight emotional food cravings and satisfy your needs using mindful eating.
“Emotional eating is using food to make yourself feel better, rather than to fill your stomach.” If any of the following apply to you, then you may be emotional eater.
- You eat more when you’re feeling stressed?
- You eat when you’re not hungry or when you’re full?
- You eat to feel better (to calm and soothe yourself when you’re sad, mad, bored, anxious, etc.)?
- You reward yourself with food?
- You regularly eat until you’ve stuffed yourself?
- Does food make you feel safe? Do you feel like food is a friend?
- Do you feel powerless or out of control around food?
We celebrate with food on many occasions such as Easter, Birthday’s, Christmas and certain holidays and special occasions and whilst this isn’t necessarily a bad thing it can become a habit and can lead to emotional eating. Overindulging on these occasions does not necessarily mean that you are an emotional eater. However, when eating is your primary emotional coping mechanism, if your first impulse is to open your food cupboard or the fridge whenever you’re upset, angry, lonely, stressed, exhausted, or bored, then you are an emotional eater and you end up getting stuck in an unhealthy cycle where the real feeling or problem is never addressed as emotional hunger can never be filled with food.
You may feel good or better in the moment, but the feelings that triggered the eating are still there and often you feel worse than you did before. You often end up feel guilty for messing up and not having more willpower and you have a more and more challenging time controlling your weight, and you feel increasingly powerless over both food and your feelings.
Identify Emotional Eating Triggers
Once you understand what causes the emotional triggers this can also help you break the cycle, are there certain places, situations or feelings that make you want to reach for sugary or fatty foods
- Stress – chronic stress leads to high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol being released and this triggers cravings for salty, sweet, and high-fat foods. The more uncontrolled stress is in your life, the more likely you are to turn to food for emotional relief.
- Emotions – Eating can be a way to temporarily “stuff down” emotions, such as anger, fear, sadness, anxiety, loneliness, resentment, and shame. Food helps you to avoid the emotions at least for a little while but the problem is this is short lived and so you end up in a cycle.
- Boredom – Often food is way to occupy the time, to relieve boredom, or as a way to fill feelings of emptiness and dissatisfaction with your life.
- Childhood habits– Were you taken out for pizza when you got a good report from school, or did you get biscuits when you were feeling sad? Or do you have fond memories of baking with your mum? These emotionally based eating habits often carry over into adulthood and when we have the same occasions or feelings in latter life we treat ourselves the same way our parents did
Ending Emotional Eating
You need to find other ways to feed your feelings that don’t involve food; you need to have conscious control over your eating habits. Have other ways to fulfil yourself emotionally and practice mindful eating, this is a practice that develops your awareness of eating habits and allows you to pause between your triggers and your actions. Mindful eating helps you to learn to meet your emotional needs in ways other than eating. It helps you to pause and reflect when cravings hit and you give yourself the opportunity to make a different choice.
The one thing I tell my clients is that hunger is not an emergency, this helps you pause and wait and while you are waiting you can check in with yourself and how you are feeling.
5 Steps to Mindful Eating
- Make a shopping list and stick to it. Most of your shopping should be in the fresh produce section, avoid processed and packaged foods
- Only eat when you are hungry and start with a small portion.
- Appreciate your food; you can either silently or out loud express your gratitude for the opportunity to enjoy delicious food and give thanks for the people you are eating with.
- Take small bites, chew your food thoroughly and savour it, identify the ingredients, especially seasonings.
- Eat slowly. If you follow the advice above, you won’t bolt your food down. Devote at least five minutes to mindful eating before you chat with your tablemates.
If you are an emotional eater and you would like to stop the cycle and become a mindful eater then connect with me by clicking here, Get Your FREE REPORT “4 SIMPLE STEPS TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE” You Can Heal Your Body, and transform your life …
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