Are you an emotional eater? Because I sure as hell know I am! We are a slave to our bodies when emotional turmoil leaves us needing a release. Have you ever noticed that when you’re super tired, or have an important deadline coming up, you want to eat all the carbs? It’s science. However, there are ways to notice your emotional eating creeping up on you, and some simple ways to help control it.
Your emotions can play havoc with your eating habits. You may look for comfort in food when emotionally vulnerable, or if you’re bored. It can be sabotaging all your weight loss efforts as you are unconsciously eating more calories through high carb, high sugar foods (and remember fructose is a sugar so you can overeat on fruit too).
Emotional eating can rear its head in the form of not eating at all, another deadly trap. By significantly reducing your caloric intake you can end up binge eating, purging, and eating far too quickly without enjoying your food.
1. Be Mindful
It is an unrelenting and unhealthy cycle, but something you can quite easily take control of. The first step is to accept that you are an emotional eater, whether that is over or under eating. Acknowledge it and come to peace with it.
Acceptance and awareness of your emotional eating encourages you to be mindful to the fact that your emotions are dictating your eating schedule. This puts you in a much stronger position to control your eating habits.
Previously I have discussed some of the alternative benefits to meditation (check that out here), but it could be the key to helping you control your emotional eating habits. Meditation reduces stress whilst increasing serotonin production, lowering your blood pressure, calming your body and mind, and increasing the feel good hormones. This makes meditation a melting pot for success and well-being.
There are many different ways to meditate depending on your time commitments and schedule. You can easily bring meditation into your daily life, and if you find yourself a victim of emotional eating, meditation may be the helping hand you need.
3. Food Diary
Keeping a food diary is a great tool for many people, although it isn’t a fit for everyone. Trialling a food diary is a great practice, even if it is a short term solution. One that is personal to you (nobody else has to see it) is the best way to track exactly what you are eating, when, and how much.
The importance of a personal food diary is that you will be honest with yourself. You know if you are lying in your food diary, which can happen (often subconsciously) if you are handing the food diary over to someone else.
Another great benefit to keeping a food diary is that you are able to spot trends and patterns emerging. Noting down the time you ate certain foods will highlight patterns, making it easier to address the issues causing your over eating in the first place.
4. Change Your Mindset
This could be a whole post in itself but changing your approach to food can make all the difference. Meditation is the foundation to being more mindful in all aspects of your life and it can be key in managing your eating habits.
By restricting yourself too much you will do more harm than good. It is the age old practice of wanting what we can’t have, which starts as a baby and never really leaves. Being told not to do/have something makes you automatically do/want the opposite, and food is no exception.
You may feel banishing all ‘bad’ foods and restricting yourself to a very limited diet is a good idea, but it isn’t, because it isn’t sustainable. Restricting your calories too much will encourage you to binge and emotionally eat.
Keep in mind the 80/20 principle, the principle was coined by a management thinker named Joseph M. Juran and named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. The basic premise is that ’80 percent of your outcomes comes from 20 percent of your input’ (If you want to know more about the 80/20 principle read here).
So in terms of healthy eating you would change 2 things from a list of 10. If you had a list of 10 things you needed to do in order to lose weight, you choose 2 and change those. For example, eating whole foods and not having ‘bad’ things in the house.
By changing these two simple things you will get 80% of your results. In not having the ‘bad’ snacks around you aren’t able to eat them so easily, which makes you re-evaluate whether you want them enough to go out and get them; and by eating whole foods you are consciously choosing nutritious, delicious and unprocessed foods.
These four easy steps can help change your eating habits, helping to control your emotional eating. They will start the ball rolling to being mindful of your food choices without much effort. Changing a few small things will help curb your emotional eating, especially as nutrient dense foods help you feel satiated, whereas processed, sugar laden foods do not.
Thanks for reading. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below 🙂