We need to eat to live. Otherwise the body would not have the energy to function. But hunger is not the only reason that drives us to eat: we also do it out of boredom, anxiety , sadness, loneliness, anger, depression or stress. Eating under the impulse of these moods is what is known as “eating for emotion” that creates negative eating habits that are difficult to break. Do you need help to do it? Here we give you 6 steps that will help you in the task.
It is known as “eating by emotion” the practice of ingesting (or “devouring”) large amounts of food (usually unhealthy) in response to emotions rather than hunger. Experts estimate that 75% of the time people eat in excess is due to emotional motivation, to their mood.
If you find yourself in this situation, you need help, so we propose the following steps:
- Emotional hunger usually arrives suddenly and makes you have “cravings” for specific foods (“I need to eat chocolate … pizza … or something salty”). You are more likely to keep eating even if you are full. In fact, you can not stop eating.
- If you are physically hungry you will feel satisfied with any type of food and will stop eating once you feel full.
- Another clue that will help you determine if you are eating for emotion is how you feel after eating. If instead of a feeling of well-being, you feel guilty, embarrassed or regret having eaten “that barbarity”, it is very likely that you are eating for emotion.
2. Identify the moments or feelings that make you overeat. What going on in your life? How you feel? You have to be brave and recognize if some of the following reasons are behind your compulsive behavior:
- You feel unable to change an annoying or unpleasant situation (family, work, for example).
- You feel overwhelmed (or) by some problem (loss of work, illness) and do not know how to solve it
- You feel stress, fatigue, loneliness or boredom
- You have low self-esteem or insecurity
3. Take control Once you have identified the reasons or the “triggers” that make you eat and eat, you can then concentrate on finding alternatives that will make you leave the vicious cycle of excitement / binge eating. No matter what the emotion, the urge to eat will pass if you concentrate on something else. Here we give you some examples:
- If you are frustrated (or) or stressed , try to practice yoga or some type of sport or physical activity.
- If you’re bored, read an interesting book, catch up on an award-winning movie you have not yet seen, practice a hobby or a creative or entertaining activity. How about learning to play a musical instrument or learning a language?
- If you feel lonely, call a friend, see a family member or dedicate a few hours to community work.
- If you feel exhausted (o) and without strength, take the opportunity to take a restorative nap or a bath of aromatic salts.
4. Eyes that do not see … Eliminate “tempting” foods in your home. The best thing is to stock up on fresh fruits or vegetables, energy bars, low calories that can serve as a snack and in case you can not avoid temptation, do not feel guilty. Also, avoid skipping meals that can lead you to overeat afterwards and drink as much liquid as you can, preferably water. Many times we think we are hungry when in reality what we have is thirst.
5. If necessary, seek help. The vicious circle of emotion / binge can be very difficult to break. If you do not achieve positive results by yourself, consult your doctor or seek qualified professional help.
6. Set a goal and give yourself a prize. When you are free of the bad habit of eating for emotion and you can lose even a bit of overweight, give yourself a reward (even if it is small): buy something that you like, visit a place that interests you, celebrate with friends. This reinforces positive behavior and rewards your work.
Step by step you will break the vicious circle that overwhelms you and that makes you feel even more frustrated. Remember that it is important that you identify the situations and emotions that make you run to the refrigerator (refrigerator or cooler) or to the pantry and that you substitute excess food for stimulating and fun activities. You will feel liberated, with less weight, and you will be healthier!