It seems like there's a time in almost every person's life when he or she needs cures for emotional eating. Whether it's eating out of stress or depression, frustration or anger, there are ways to stop the mindless eating and take back control of your diet.
What is Emotional Eating?
Emotional eating is usually defined as an eating binge brought about by trying to repress or counter negative emotions. A more positive emotion or release is attached to eating, so the person keeps eating to keep those negative emotions at bay.
For some people, emotional eating is just an occasional problem, say when they are very stressed out or are going through some kind of trauma.
For others, it's bad enough and regular enough that you can actually consider emotional eating a kind of eating disorder. Some experts say that as much as 75 percent of overeating is due to emotional eating that stems from depression, loneliness, anger, stress, anxiety, frustration, difficulty with relationships or low self-esteem.
Cures for Emotional Eating
If you are a person who falls prey to emotional eating regularly, you need to becomes a detective for yourself to determine exactly what is causing your emotional eating.
There are five main categories of triggers that can cause emotional eating; once you know what your triggers are you can start to find cures for emotional eating that will work for you.
- Social triggers: You eat more around other people either because of anxiety, being encouraged to eat, wanting to fit in, having an argument or other strong emotions associated with the people you are around.
- Situational triggers: You overeat because the food is there. You're at a restaurant and devour the whole bread basket, or you stop at your favorite doughnut shop every day because you have to pass by it on your way to work. This category also includes eating in front of the television or at the movie theater.
- Emotional triggers: As mentioned above, many people overeat out of boredom, anger, anxiety, loneliness, depression, or because they are bored or tired.
- Thought triggers: Tying in with emotions are the triggers from your thoughts of low-self worth that often comes from beating yourself up about your lack of willpower when it comes to food.
- Physiological triggers: Some people eat too much as a response to a physical cue such as a headache or the pain caused by skipping a meal earlier in the day.
The best way for you to figure out what your cues for emotional eating are (if you don't already see yourself in one of the above descriptions) is to keep a food diary for several weeks. Write down everything you eat and how you feel before and after eating. The emotions you feel around food are vital to preventing emotional eating, so be honest with yourself.
Once you know what's causing the overeating, you can start to replace that behavior with something healthier.
Ideas for Stopping Emotional Eating
There are many different activities that can work as cures for emotional eating, but you will have to experiment to find out which ones will work best for you. Here are some ideas of things you can try when you encounter the emotions or situations that might trigger overeating for you:
- Go for a walk
- Read a book
- Listen to relaxing music
- Take a bath
- Take some deep breaths
- Try meditation
- Talk to a friend
- Play a game
- Do chores
- Write a letter
- Try to relax
- Do something you enjoy that's calorie free
If you try some of these alternative activities and aren't having a lot of success curbing your emotional eating, you might want to seek the help of an individual or group counselor. Talking to someone who understands emotional eating and the complex emotions that cause it can help you see why you're doing it and perhaps help you work through the problems that were causing the overeating in the first place.