Does this sound familiar: “My boss is getting on my last nerve today…I need a juicy burger with cheese fries!” or, “My bills are stressing me out…a piece of chocolate cake has my name on it!”.
Emotional eating is driven by emotions and feelings rather than actual hunger. Oftentimes, the strongest cravings for food happen when we deal with negative emotions like emptiness, stress, boredom, loneliness and anger. You may focus on eating comfort food instead of dealing with a difficult situation.
However, whatever emotions drive you to overeat, the end result is often the same. Stress eating will suppress your thoughts and feelings but ultimately sabotage your healthy eating goals.
If you’re prone to emotional eating, there is good news! You can take steps to regain control of your healthy eating habits and get back on track before any damage is done.
Know the difference between emotional vs. physical hunger.
Mindless eating comes from using your body and not your head. Emotional hunger comes on fast; brings on feelings of guilt and certain go-to foods like potato chips and sugary treats are chosen to help fill an emotional void. Physical hunger builds gradually in your body; you’ll tend to stop eating when your full and you’re more likely to choose a variety of foods to satisfy your hunger without a guilty conscience.
Identify your triggers.
When you feel overwhelmed, turning to high calorie foods and drinks for comfort will only add to your stress. Learning your motives is key to controlling those cravings. When you can identify mood triggers you can easily adjust your eating patterns to more positive outcomes.
Keep a food and mood diary.
Journaling is a great habit to start. Write down how much, when, and how you feel before and after eating and drinking. Keeping a diary will help keep track of your food and mood, understand your triggers and help you create a successful plan to know what to avoid. Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail.
Include exercise as a lifestyle.
The saying holds true, working out is a great way to relieve stress. Not only will you burn calories, exercising will help manage your stress. Find a certified personal trainer to lead you through a workout, join a kickboxing class or if you need a more peaceful activity Yoga is perfect. Working out does wonders for your mood, increases your energy levels and gets your body toned. So, let’s put down the doughnuts, and pick up the dumbbells for a happier and healthier you.
Bridget Smith is a Celebrity Health and Fitness Expert, Certified Life Coach, a National Spokesperson for American Heart Association and the owner of B360Fit. Keep up with her advice and events via her website