Sometimes it can be hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle, especially when the stresses of everyday life keep bringing you down and result in comfort eating – so we thought we’d share our six tips for overcoming emotional eating and getting your life back on track.
1. Physical or emotional?
Understanding the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger can sometimes be the key to overcoming unnecessary binges, but how can you tell? An easy way of thinking about it is by asking yourself how are you hungry? Do you feel a physical pain that is telling you to eat, or is it your mind focusing on a craving? Discerning where and why you are hungry is a simple way of working out whether you have a need to eat or a desire to – thus keeping unnecessary eating in check.
2. Know your triggers
Planning ahead is a good way to overcome comfort eating, and so recognising your triggers is important step to becoming aware of the situations that lead you to food. For example, if you know that being lonely often leads to you emotionally eating and you are going to be alone for the next few days, why not arrange plans with friends or take yourself out to the cinema to avoid situations that would lead you to binge.
3. Think positive
It can be easy to put yourself down after a binge and be overly critical of yourself, but in the long run this may start a cycle of comfort eating. Each time you beat yourself up about one mistake you may trigger another binge and so on.
To beat this cycle, why not think less about what you’ve done but instead about how you can prevent it happening again. Whether it’s writing it down in a journal or just becoming more aware mentally of any changes you need to make to your lifestyle.
4. Managing stress
Stress is often the number one cause for comfort eating, so by managing your stress you may find that your emotional eating habit is put to rest. There are many ways to do this such as starting yoga or doing something that you enjoy like reading a book or spending time with the people you love. Managing your stress isn’t as simple as it sounds but simple activities like these can often help reduce or alleviate your stress levels.
5. Acknowledge your eating
A bad habit which can either contribute to, or exaggerate emotional eating is not focusing on what you are consuming. It’s all too tempting to switch on the television when you’re having dinner, but by not focusing on your food you run the risk of over-consuming – as you are less aware of how much you are actually eating and whether or not you are full. Focusing on what you are eating also keeps portion sizes under control, as you are less likely to auto-eat and be more in tune with your body.
Let yourself feel
In most cases, comfort eating comes from the suppression of emotions and emotional avoidance – but why be so afraid of feelings? Embracing how you feel, and allowing yourself to express these emotions, is important to breaking the cycle of using food as a comfort and seeing it as a form of sustenance instead. So, if you feel like having a bit of a cry then don’t turn to the fridge but express your emotions or take your mind off it with exercise.
Another reason many overeat is out of boredom, so if you often find yourself gravitating toward the fridge, why not check out our 15 minute workout? That’ll keep you busy and not jeopardise your weight loss!
Emotional eating may not be fully avoidable, but by considering these tips you may be able to keep in check and change the way you feel about food. For more help, why not check out our retreat programmes or request a free info pack.