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5 Easy Steps To Stop Emotional Eating

Posted Jan 07 2011 10:42am
This is 5 easy steps to stopping emotional eating but that assumes of course that

(A) you want to stop emotional eating
(B) know that you eat things for emotional reasons

If you don't think you eat for emotionally reasons you either don't eat at all or you're lying to yourself.

Emotional Eating: Stuff You Should Know


Basically emotional eating is stuffing food into you mouth any time you don't actual need food or drink for living or existing purposes. I know you're thinking um - that's  most of the time. Uh huh. That's modern living. We have some much access to such an array of food that we want and have it continuously.

The idea of emotional eating is that we use food to suppress or ignore feeling that might come up. There are times when we may crave certain foods because we need a specific nutrient - which is awesome because our body knows what it needs - BUT - this need should be met within a few days or a week, so cravings for specific things beyond that beg some examination.

I remember a few years ago when I shook up my eating and wasn't eating tons of sugary and salty snacks in between meals and I was shocked to re-discover that I could actually feel hungry. It had beens so long that I had felt the true need to eat something for hunger not just because the food was in front of me.


  • most comfort food eating happens from 4pm - 8pm 
  • but for die hard snackers all bets of are off - you could be emotionally eating any time of day
  • If you always crave certain foods and it tends to be at the same time each day, month or week  you are dealing with emotional eating
5 Steps to Curb Your Emotional Eating:

1. Identify that you are emotional eating: I like to tell clients my 'apple rule' If you are craving something like a cracker, cookie etc. STOP. Now ask yourself are you actually hungry or do you just want that particular food. If you are actually hungry you would eat an apple. So eat an apple instead of something Ass Bad. If you just want the cookie you've identified emotional eating behaviour.

2. Figure out the pattern. When are you wanting to eat emotionally? Maybe it's you've had a bad day at work, you're kids are making you crazy, you feel fat, you're angry. Whatever the cause start to notice the emotion tied to the hand digging around in a chip bag. Write it down so you have to acknowledge it. I eat candy when I feel like I'm all alone. Yeah - honesty can hurt but accessing it means you can move forward.

3. Get The Trigger Foods Out of Your House. You love to eat 10 cookies after you yell at your husband, or maybe you finish off nachos with cheese after failing a test. This is the hard part: stop bringing this product into your home. If you can't reach them you can't put them in your hand and therefore they won't end up on your ass. Find healthy options that have the same texture or flavour. Kale or apple chips instead of chips, have a baked sweet potato with olive oil instead of a pie or mac and cheese. For candy have a handful of nuts and raisins. 

4. Do Something About Your Feelings. Okay so now back to our January ACTION Plan. To have yourself move forward you have to break out of old habits. Try something new. When you get angry next time instead of reaching for food at all, do jumping jacks for 40 seconds in the middle of your kitchen. When you're watching TV and want something sweet, turn off the tv and organize a drawer. Disconnect from the emotions or behaviours that seem to lead to your emotional eating. Use your time wisely. 


5. Figure out What the Emotional Connection is Really: 

Finding out why you crave what you do can be fascinating. There is a fabulous older book called Constant Cravings, which examines what different foods mean. Have a look and find your emotional issue...

CRAVING                               EMOTIONAL CONNECTION
chocolate                                    hungry for love, feeling rejected
dairy products                            Anti-depressant foods
nuts & crunchy foods                 salty: stress, anger and anxiety, nuts: cravings for fun
liquids                                        up/down energy cycles
high fat foods                             filling emptiness
spicy foods                                 drive for excitement
bread & starch                            comfort and caring
cookies, cakes, pies                    pleasure and reassure
candy                                          rewards and entertainment


Hope this gives your food some thought.

Amanda
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