WHY do we over-eat? In most cases, overeaters are emotional eaters. Doubt it? Here’s a list of feelings. If you’re overweight, think of how you respond to these:
If you have a tendency to reach for the chocolate, the chips, or the ice cream to make you feel better, here are 3 techniques to STOP your emotional eating.
1 - Talk to yourself - Let the “Healthy You” (HU) and the “Emotional You” (EU) have a little conversation.
– HU : “Oh-oh…You’re gonna hurt yourself.”
– EU : “But it’s gonna make me feel better.”
– HU : “Only for 10 seconds, then you’ll feel guilty.”
– EU : “I already feel guilty, so what’s the difference?”
– HU : “You will feel proud if you don’t go for the food, and it will help your health overall.”
Yes, there may be quite a bit of conversation going on in your head, at least in the beginning, and it may be strange. But it’s a healthy process.
2 - Find alternatives to destructive eating. No excuses. If going for a walk is unsafe or going to the gym impractical, try putting on some music and dancing around the house, playing hide-and-seek with the kids, vacuuming the house top to bottom, running up and down the building’s staircase, or taking a vigorous walk through the shopping mall. Physical activity is a “negative calories” activity and a natural “upper.”
3 - Keep a “Foods & Feelings” journal. It’s one mindless thing to scarf down a couple of potato chips, then a few more, then the whole bag, but it’s quite an eye-opener to write:
* Trigger: I feel bored
* Food response: Potato chips: 2+5+? = the whole bag = ? calories (too many to admit)
* End Feeling: sick in my stomach, heartburn, guilty, craving for more, still bored.
Emotional eating has many triggers. Some may be recent, some may be from a lifetime of conditioned responses. If talking to yourself leads nowhere, consider talking to a professional, either a registered dietitian (find one at http://www.eatright.org ) or a licensed psychologist or psychotherapist: they can help you unravel the tangles of your emotions.