If you are an emotional eater, food is more than “just food” for you. It’s a way of healing yourself, battling the negative feelings, or basking in the happy moments of your life. A pint of ice cream or a jaw-breaking burger is more comforting than a cozy bed.
Unfortunately, emotional eating is linked to obesity (1), (2). And, as you know, obesity leads to a host of diseases and poor mental health (3), (4), (5). Putting your health at risk is not worth any amount of temporary joy. So, If you are guilty of emotional eating, it’s time to change your habit. Take one step at a time. Here are 15 best ways to stop emotional eating. Swipe up!
How To Stop Emotional Eating – 15 Best Ways
1. Allow Yourself To Feel
Stressful situations can lead you to block your true feelings by allowing yourself to eat comfort food. If you want to stop eating emotionally, you have to start by acknowledging your feelings. Sad, heartbroken, broken, anxious – whatever it is, allow yourself to feel the emotion. This way, over a period, you will be able to deal better with your emotions and the problem at hand instead of relying on food to feel better.
2. Accept Yourself
Accepting yourself, however you are, will eliminate most of your problems. The more you deny yourself, the more agitated you will feel. This, in turn, leads to high levels of stress and depression. And when you are feeling low or anxious, you will turn to food to feel better and block your feelings. So, the second step is, be honest with yourself, and be ok being a little different from the others. It is more stressful to pretend to be someone else than being truly yourself. Deep, but true.
3. Are You Really Hungry?
You might take some time to understand and implement the above two points. In the meanwhile, when you feel hungry or suddenly crave for food, take the broccoli test. To do this, just imagine broccoli and ask yourself if you are hungry. If you answer in the affirmative, you are truly hungry. If not, you are just craving some extra unwanted calories.
4. Recognize Your Triggers
Most emotional eaters have specific triggers that make them crave for salty or sugary foods. Maintain a journal to identify your triggers. For example, you crave for food when you are watching a movie, working, post-breakup, bored, or had a bad day at work. Writing down what triggers your emotional eating helps you stop yourself from indulging in it.
5. Write Down Your Meal Plan
The next thing you need to do is plan the next day’s meal. Any plan or goal will remain a wish unless you write it down. Once you write it down, it is ingrained in your brain, and you are more likely to follow the plan. Yes, this may take a few days to get accustomed to, but you will start following the meal plan for sure. When you plan your meal, you will know when to eat what and in what amounts. This will give your brain a cue when you cheat and consume extra calories.
6. Go Grocery Shopping
When you plan your meal, you may notice that you need to buy a few things from the grocery shop. So, take this opportunity to give your kitchen a grand makeover. Throw away or donate all the junk food. Buy veggies, fruits, healthy fats, lean protein, spices, herbs, and dairy and store in your fridge and kitchen cabinets. When you do not have junk or “comfort food” readily available at home, you will be less likely to crave for them.
7. Cook Your Food
You must cook your food. Or give your cook instructions to cook healthy food. Make sure you have 4-5 different veggies, use a heart-friendly oil, herbs, and spices. You can chop the veggies during the weekend, store them in ziplock bags, and use them later on weekdays. Or wake up a little early and prepare your food.
8. Drink Water
Sometimes, when you are thirsty, you actually start feeling hungry. But the reality is, you are just thirsty. So, the next time when you feel hungry at an odd time, take a few gulps of water. It will help quench your thirst, and you will not consume excess food. Also, water helps flush out toxins from the body, prevents constipation, balances internal pH, and maintains homeostasis. Drinking 3-4 liters of water will protect you from many health problems and boost your metabolic rate.
9. Be Prepared For Your Cravings
Since you have the habit of consuming food at odd times, initially, it will be difficult for you to ignore your cravings totally. So, be prepared for it. Keep baby carrots, cucumber, in-shell pistachios, green tea, black coffee, yogurt dip, hummus, baby spinach, 80% or more dark chocolate, berries, quinoa, and unsalted popcorn in your kitchen or fridge. Fix a yummy snack when you crave for anything salty or sweet. But remember, do not go overboard with any of these because even healthy food in excess can cause weight gain.
10. Eat Slowly
Chew your food properly. Use a small plate and spoon, enjoy the flavors, and eat your food slowly. When you eat slowly, you will feel satiated sooner, consume fewer calories, gulp less air (yes!), and not feel hungry right after a big meal. Also, eat at regular intervals, say, every 2-3 hours. This way, you will not be so hungry that you will eat anything and everything during the next meal.
11. Exercise Regularly
Exercising is very important when you are dealing with emotional eating and obesity. It helps you utilize the stored fat or excess calories as usable energy. Exercising also helps detoxify your body and releases “feel good” hormones. As a result, you will lose weight and not depend on food to feel better. In fact, if you are depressed or happy, instead of ordering a calorie-loaded ice cream, just start walking, running, swimming, or playing an outdoor sport. Take out 10 minutes every day to relax and meditate. It will help bond your mind and body.
12. Enjoy A Cheat Meal Day
Once you begin making better lifestyle choices, you can indulge in a cheat day every week. But you have to earn it, which means you cannot keep going off the track and still enjoy a cheat meal. Only if you adhere to healthy eating and meditate and exercise regularly will you earn a guilt-free cheat meal day.
13. Switch Off The TV/Laptop
Pay attention to your food when you have a meal. Switch off all electronic gadgets and look at your food and eat. This way, you will know how much you are eating, what you are eating, and enjoy the food as well. If you are less distracted while eating, you will be less likely to indulge in another high-calorie meal.
14. Get Good Rest
Getting good rest will help you get rid of negative emotions. If you are worked up and worried about something, sleeping on it is the best remedy. If you do not get 6-7 hours sleep, you will react to any stimulus in a negative way, feel tired, and be cranky. You can read a book, paint, learn a new language or a new skill, go for a walk with your pet, or talk to your friends to relax.
15. Get Professional Help
If none of these tips help, you must get professional help. Emotional eating may not seem life-threatening, but it can lead to many health issues over time. It will also lower your self-esteem, bring in negative emotions, such as self-hatred, and prevent you from progressing in your life. Talking to a professional will help you see yourself in a new light. It will help you understand the root causes of being emotionally sensitive and tackle the foodie monster in your head.
These are the 15 best ways you can stop yourself from emotional eating. Try these tricks, and you will see great results in two weeks’ time. Leave a comment below if you have any queries. Take care!
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