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How Can You Break the Emotional Eating Habit?

Posted Oct 06 2008 12:00am

Emotional Eating is habit forming. We all know that. We all do it. Isn’t it easier to sit with a cake or dish of ice cream and enjoy the flavor rather than thinking about our bad day and how to fix it?  When we are upset, our body and our mind wants us to feel better so we crave the good sugary and fatty foods to make us feel better. But does it make us feel better? Well only for about 10 minutes, then we start to feel bad again from our day and very guilty for what we just ate.

So what can we do to stop reacting with food? Learn what purpose food is serving. Stress eating is usually a response to emotional hunger. Try keeping a log for two weeks to monitor your food intake and your feelings at that time. Divide it into columns noting when, where and what you eat; how long it takes for you to reach for the food; what precipitates eating; and your feelings during and after eating. Analyze your chart for the events that lead to eating. Your stress eating may be triggered when a conversation unleashes intense feelings, like being lonely, frustrated, angry, trapped, helpless, or not in control, sometimes hours before you take your first bite. Understanding what prompts your eating can be a key to freedom from food and weight problems.

Now that you know what causes your eating, how can you change it? It is necessary to understand your feelings such as feelings connected to past trauma and/or loss, which may be reactivated by a current event, prompting you to reach for food as a way to cope. You need to take action to disconnect in a healthy way, instead of using food. How long does it take for you to react by eating? What do you reach for? You may find patterns of habit. Can you substitute lower calorie choices? So instead of reaching for potato chips, can you munch on carrots or radishes? Can you substitute activities? Instead of eating, try to take a walk or go to the gym to lift weights to reduce the stress. Orr if you are feeling low and need a pick me up, buy a new pair of shoes. In general, find new ways to satisfy the feelings causing you to overeat. Over time, you will learn new habits that will be beneficial to your health.

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