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This is a guest post written by Andrew of How to Stop Emotional Eating.
Emotional eating is when you consume food to deal with tough emotions rather than to satisfy actual physical hunger. Emotional eating is where the phrase “comfort foods” comes from. Comfort food is usually junk food or fast food. It’s food that you probably wouldn’t consume on a daily basis because of it’s high fat or sugar content. Often we eat comfort foods to soothe tough or negative emotions.
Have you ever came home from a long stressful day at work and skipped your planned workout? Instead, you just head straight for the fridge and before you knew it were eating your favorite comfort food? Maybe it was ice-cream, pizza, cookies or potato chips. Afterwards, you probably felt lazy, and relaxed the whole night, probably watching tv or surfing the net. You probably woke up the next day feeling guilty about sabotaging your weight loss efforts the previous night. You maybe even promised yourself that from now on you will never do this again. However, deep down you know that when you engage in emotional eating you lose control. If you were honest with yourself you might even admit that sometimes you are powerless over your junk food cravings.
Here are 5 Tips to End your Emotional Eating:
1. Become Aware of Your Emotional State. You need to start becoming more aware of your emotions throughout the day. It’s not a good idea to let stress, worry, disappointment or any other negative emotion build up. Otherwise that emotion will take over you and you will engage in emotional eating. A technique you can use is asking “how do I feel?” at different random times during the day. This will help you catch yourself when you are starting to feel stressed out. Becoming aware will help you pause before you reach for food to deal with tough emotions.
2. Identify your Trigger Emotions & Events. You need to identify your emotional eating triggers. To find your emotional eating triggers think of the last time you engaged in emotional eating. You know the time you weren’t really hungry but ate anyway? Or the last time you ate lots of junk food and ruined your diet? How were you feeling that day? Were there any stressful events that occurred? Any tough emotions or circumstances you experienced? Become aware of your emotional eating triggers, so that next time they come up, you wont automatically engage in emotional eating.
3. Journal. Journaling will help you become more aware of your emotions and stress levels. I recommend carrying a pocket sized pad and a pen with you throughout the day. And at random intervals, start writing down your thoughts, emotions, worries, anxieties in your journal. This will help you point out the reoccurring events in your life that cause you repeated stress. Lets say you find out that your job is a big source of stress then you need to ask “what can I do about it?” You might talk to your boss about making some changes or just decide to look for a new job.
4. Come up With Alternative Relaxing Activities. Often we engage in emotional eating to relax and comfort ourselves. To stop emotional eating you need to make a list of other relaxing activities you can do. Some common ones are going for a long walk, going for a bike ride, taking a nice warm shower, taking a nap, calling a friend and sharing details about your day, listening to your favorite music, or watching your favorite movie. Keep this list in a visible spot, preferably on your fridge. This way when you are about to reach for comfort foods, you are reminded of your alternative relaxing activities.
5. Forgive Yourself. To stop emotional eating you will need to forgive yourself. You will need to go easy on yourself. It probably took you years to build unhealthy emotional eating habits. As a result aim for slow gradual progress rather than perfection. There will be times where you consume food for comfort, accept that and forgive yourself when you do it. At the same time, work on becoming more aware of your emotional eating. Also work on eliminating the events that trigger emotional eating in your life. You will gradually see progress and be able to finally lose that extra weight.
Question? All comments big and small are very welcomed!
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