One of the easiest ways to gain weight is though emotional eating. The reason is that when you are feeling emotionally weak (e.g. sad, depressed, stressed, bored, etc.), your strongest food cravings can hit the hardest. It is during these times that you typically crave comfort foods, which are usually high in fats, sugar and loaded with calories. As such, emotional eating can also railroad your weight loss efforts, too.
How Can You Overcome Emotional Eating?
The good news is that you can get back on track with your fat loss goals. When difficult emotions threaten to activate your emotional eating habits, you can take steps to control cravings and nip this desire to binge in the bud before it becomes a problem.
Work on Overcoming Emotional Eating with These Helpful Tips
- Control stress – If you are feeling stressed, work on ways to manage it through exercise, meditation, yoga or even deep breathing.
- Don’t let boredom win – Don’t snack when you’re feeling bored. Distract yourself with an activity that will engage both your mind and body to avoid giving in to emotional eating. Go for a walk, play with a pet, listen/dance to music, read, call a friend, etc.
- Maintain a food diary – Take note of what you eat, how much you eat, how often you eat, how hungry you are when you eat and how you feel when you eat. Over time you might see patterns that link your mood to your eating habits. According to WebMD several studies have shown that people who keep food diaries are more likely to find success losing weight.
- Remove temptation – If there are junk foods you find hard to resist in your home, don’t keep them in your home. This makes it harder for you to obtain these foods when you’re having an emotional eating attack. Knowing you’ll have to take a trip to the grocery story will give time for these cravings to pass.
- Choose healthy snacks – If you feel the desire to eat between meals, choose healthy options, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts or unbuttered popcorn. You can also try low-calorie alternatives to your favorite foods.
- Avoid depriving yourself – Don’t make the mistake of limiting your calories too much. If you eat fewer calories than you require, this can negatively impact your mood and increase hunger. Eat the number of calories you need and fill up on healthier food choices with the occasional treat to keep your emotional eating at bay.
- Learn from mistakes and forgive yourself – Setbacks happen. When you slip and have an episode of emotional eating, forgive yourself and remember that tomorrow is a new day to start fresh. Pay attention to your experiences and plan on how you can prevent repeating the same mistakes in the future. The more aware you are of your eating habits, the greater your chances of making positive changes that stick.