The consequences of emotional eating

For many people, their eating habits fluctuate based on their emotions. They binge in excess or sometimes on unhealthy foods when they are sad, angry, frustrated and even when they are in a good mood, or want to celebrate. It is even a kind of punishment, you feel bad about yourself and you eat in excess to punish yourself even more. Or, you follow a strict diet to lose weight, but something triggers a relapse so you binge on fried foods. Then you feel guilty because you have strayed from your diet restrictions in a minute. This behavior makes sense with the term called emotional eating.

What is emotional eating?

Eating when you are emotional, rather than when you are hungry is something most people do occasionally including me.  It starts to be a problem when it becomes abnormal and you feel that it is out of your control.  You start to feel that you cannot stop eating or indulging in your favorite unhealthy snacks. This type of eating is a major reason why some people gain weight and become overweight.

The most common emotional triggers for overeating are boredom, anger, sadness, happiness, anxiety, loneliness, stress, low self-esteem, disappointment and frustration. Ask the question, “Am I hungry now or Am I eating for another reason?”

Usually, when you eat because of your emotions, you are too happy or sad to feel whether you are actually hungry or not, so you find it difficult to recognize the feeling of fullness, because you are under the effect of the emotions of this specific moment.

Here are some ways to exert self-control over your emotional eating.

Keep a food dairy:  When you feel that you are eating too much and often because of your emotions, keep a food diary for a week. Include the time you eat, the reasons for eating and evaluate your emotions after eating. It is a hard exercise, but a food diary can give you an idea of how often you eat for reasons other than hunger.

Look for an activity that helps channel your emotions: Find an activity that brings you the mental and psychological comfort that you would otherwise find in food, whether its sugary or salty items.

For example, you can run on the treadmill when you are angry or stressed.  Any intense activity can secrete endorphines, and these hormones will make you feel relaxed and eventually will block your cravings.

If you are eating because you are happy, replace that with activities that bring you feelings of joy about yourself like shopping, friendly outings or calling a friend.

Break your dependence on unhealthy food items: When you think happiness, it is chocolate. When you think sadness, and stress it can be chips. You can change all these habits by turning your snacks into healthy ones.

If you want something sweet, you can try a fruit salad, yogurt with some fruits or breakfast bar for example, instead of chocolate cakes or doughnuts.

Also, a small amount of nuts and almonds gives you the feeling of fullness for a longer time, even more than biscuits.

What about a whole grain toast, with jam on the top? It is a great option to have as well as it is sweet and nutritious.

Before you go sleep, have a cup of skim milk or low- fat plain yogurt. It will calm you down at night.

Feel hungry: People, who are emotional eaters, often lose the sense of hunger. They are always full because they tend to snack a lot.

Feeling the hunger before meals is an excellent factor that contributes to weight loss or weight maintenance. So eat your main meals when you are hungry and let your snacks be light and healthy.

And, when you feel that you are losing control towards food, be sure to ask yourself this pertinent question: ‘Am I still hungry or Am I eating for another reason?’.

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