It all starts with a ‘harmless’ piece of chocolate, moves on to ‘only a few’ slices of cheese, and before you know it, you’re elbow deep in a pint of ice cream. By bedtime, you’re retiring with a flurry of mixed emotions, a sick tummy, and a (temporarily) content heart.
Emotional eating happens way more often than you realise. Contrary to what the movies picture it like, it doesn’t require you to empty your fridge in a single night. When you find yourself eating for reasons other than satisfying actual physical hunger, you’re eating to drown an emotional turmoil.
Let’s start by hitting the nail on the head, food is a distraction, a big one at that. It creates a false feeling of temporary fullness which we happen to equate to the fullness of an emotional void. In fact, our emotions and eating habits are so intensely intertwined that we automatically reach for a treat when we’re angry or upset, without realising that we’re not in a mental state to even enjoy it. No matter which emotions drive us to overeat, the result is always the same. We experience momentary comfort, but the emotions return with an added guilt of setting back our weight loss efforts. We mentally beat ourselves up and, in another weak moment, overeat again. It never stops.
Well, with the following strategies and a little mental determination, in time you can stop stress eating by avoiding turning to food for emotional comfort
1. Maintain A Food Journal
In most cases, an awareness about specific connections between mood and food can be the first aspect of change. A food diary will help you notice a stress eating pattern. Start with a religious document of all the necessary details – what you eat, when you eat, how much you eat, and how hungry you are. This will definitely help you analyze your eating patterns and help you to control binge eating
2. Burn Those Calories
Blowing off steam through a conscious workout plan is a great way to show the finger to mindless eating. Not only does it help you refrain from a bad diet because you know the effort that goes into undoing it, it also provides the correct outlet to all that pent-up emotional energy. Pick a form of fitness that interests you and get your endorphins going.
3. Find Other Ways To Pamper Yourself
Instead of justifying that midnight chocolate binge, try finding other ways to pamper yourself. Read a book, dress up for work, buy that lipstick, book a spa sesh, have a movie marathon. With time you’ll see that a big bag of wafers isn’t the only source of mental satiation.
4. Enjoy An Occasional Cheat Meal
A huge part of curbing a craving involves indulging into it occasionally. Cutting off your favorite food item completely will only lead to stronger temptation. Instead, allow yourself some edible love and savor every bit of it. And while you’re at it, remember to relate it to happiness, not stress.
5. Take Away Temptation
Be smart and keep common offenders out of easy reach. If unrealistic work timelines make you indulge in unhealthy midday munching, get rid of your work stash altogether. If sleepwalking to the kitchen cabinets in search of food is your thing, strip them off all the junk. No distractions = No straying.
6. Celebrate Small Successes
Realise that changing a deep-rooted habit is a process and takes time. Positive changes do not happen overnight so don’t come down on yourself after an episode of stress eating. Instead, set small goals and treat yourself with incentives when you reach them.