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Is Stress Keeping You Fat? 5 Tips to End Your Emotional Eating

Emotional Eating

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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.

Andrew Bolis writes on the subject of binge eating at How To Stop Eating You can subscribe to his Free tips newsletter on how to end your emotional eating.

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38 Responses to Is Stress Keeping You Fat? 5 Tips to End Your Emotional Eating

  1. Diy Conservatories October 15, 2008 at 4:45 am #

    Absolutly! I never though food was something to enjoy, it was a case of just fuel for my body.
    But now I have some certian foods, I.e. curries, crisps and a certian fizzy drink, I just love to have all the time.
    The more I eat, the less In feel like moving my body, to keep fit

  2. Stella October 15, 2008 at 5:27 pm #

    So true and well said! I have experienced this emotional binge-eating myself too and believe me you feel distressed a bit at first, but later on you need to join a gym or do regular workouts yourself. Whatever, those tips seem really practical. I am applying few of those to get rid of this “habit” (it can become a habit too if you experience these emotional turmoils on and off!). Thanks for a well written post Mr. Andrew and thanks agentsully for sharing it!

  3. Website Design Australia October 16, 2008 at 5:00 am #

    This one is good. I m aware about my emotions but was not able to control. I liked you last three tips a lot, especially the last one. I have to forgive my self. I punish my self a lot. I need to learn that.. Thanks

  4. mortgage calculator loan October 16, 2008 at 5:17 pm #

    To avoid stress we all need to find something fun to do each week. You have to have crazy fun.

  5. Cory October 28, 2008 at 1:33 pm #

    Great tips. I’d add that surrounding yourself with healthy foods, and eliminating junk food is also a good idea. That way if you are tempted to eat emotionally, you can forgive yourself more easily since its healthy food you’re eating.

  6. Dan from Hat gadgets blog November 3, 2008 at 2:54 pm #

    Relaxing Activities will keep the stress level to minimum

  7. DDS November 23, 2008 at 10:45 pm #

    The worst part about having to lose weight for an event is that you stress about looking good for the event, and you don’t lose as much weight as you would if you didn’t stress about it.

  8. YOR Health December 22, 2008 at 8:07 pm #

    As one of my doctors always said, being in a good mood(e.g. happy) is important to maintaining good health. Sincerely focusing on not worrying about the “small stuff” and focusing on trying to be happy can make a dramatic improvement on your health.

  9. Ernie Small December 27, 2008 at 11:07 pm #

    great post.i used to have a terrible habit of eating food AS i prepared it (like making burritos and eating them as they are put together). i found that by deciding how much i was going to eat and then eating it, 9 times out of 10 it would be much less food than i would have eaten using the previous method.

  10. Exercises For Shoulders January 15, 2009 at 3:27 pm #

    Great article.

    I’m the opposite. When I’m stressed, rather than eat, I exercise..

    If only everyone did that instead 🙂

  11. diet cooking January 29, 2009 at 3:46 pm #

    I know stress double my food need. And i am getting faster fat.

  12. DIY Ceiling Advice May 26, 2009 at 9:26 am #

    I work in the opposite way. When I get stressed I cannot eat. I find it equally frustrating.

    • agentsully June 6, 2009 at 11:44 am #

      @DIY – I used to be that way too. I know how hard that can be.

  13. Nadine Ann June 5, 2009 at 10:39 pm #

    I agree with you 100% that stress is a major influence for binge eating disorder. I highly recommend anyone suffering from binge eating to find a good stress reduction program right away!

    Thanks for your article.

    Nadine Ann

    • agentsully June 6, 2009 at 10:42 am #

      @Nadine Ann – thank you for chiming in!

  14. cicatrices August 19, 2009 at 5:53 pm #

    I am trying to change my anxiety habits and try to work out when i am stressed instead of eating

  15. Bipolar Symptoms September 4, 2009 at 3:18 pm #

    Wilson, given your comment I doubt you know anything about bipolar disorder at all. Bipolar disorder is due to physical causes rather than psychological ones, a predisposition for an overflow of neurotransmitters in the brain under some circumstances. It is chronic, and there is nothing you can do about it other than medicate yourself. Regarding your comment on getting fat, some medications used to treat the illness actually induce weight gain themselves, without any need for extra caloric intake. Google it and educate yourself before posting, please.

  16. Dream Body October 2, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

    me too! dude what a helpful blog post.

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