Emotional eating is a big issue that needs to be dealt with right away if you plan to lose weight. While it is possible for emotional eaters to lose weight, if the issue is not resolved, you’ll almost always put the weight right back on again. It isn’t easy, but here are 3 ways to reduce your emotional eating.
Eat Only When Really Hungry
The first step to prevent emotional eating is to learn to distinguish between physical hunger and emotional hunger. Physical hunger is when your body really needs food, and emotional hunger is when you are stressed (or bored) and feel like distracting yourself with food. If you just had a big lunch and something at work upsets you and you are magically hungry again, that’s not physical hunger.
Don’t forget that thirst can also be mistaken for hunger. So if you feel you are hungry at a time when you shouldn’t be, just drink a large glass of water. If that doesn’t help, do something to distract yourself instead of eating.
Find Other Ways to Manage Stress
Of course, the best way to manage emotional eating would be never to get emotional at all. But since that isn’t possible for most of us (though you should try and stay away from triggers like fighting with your spouse or reading the newspaper when it makes you feel bad), the next best thing is to manage those emotions in other ways.
Think about it this way: if you eat something because you are emotional, you will feel better for a minute, and afterwards feel awful that you broke your diet. This will lead to more stress and more eating, and it is a vicious cycle. Instead, use other methods to channel your emotions, such as writing down your feelings in a journal, talking to a friend, going for a long walk, dancing to some music, or watching a feel-good movie. This way, you won’t be breaking your diet, and you’ll learn new ways to help yourself feel better. It’ll get easier over time.
Don’t Deprive Yourself Too Much On Your Diet
Sometimes when you are on a rigid diet, it’s easy to think that completely cutting out the foods you love is a good idea. The thing is, if you are an emotional eater, these are the very foods you will eat too much of to make yourself feel better when you are down. Instead, eat the foods you love in small quantities occasionally. This way your willpower is stronger when you feel like eating, because you don’t feel totally deprived.
These steps can help you manage your emotional eating when you are on a diet, but do remember that to maintain your weight loss later on, you will have to nip this bad habit in the bud and develop a healthy approach to managing stress instead of emotional eating. As mentioned in the second tip, this means finding ways to manage your stress permanently through other channels.