Are you always hungry? Or do you drown your woes in food? One of the major ‘fat habits’ that keeps people from losing weight is emotional eating.
Emotional eating is common among people of all shapes and sizes—even healthy types—and it can take on different forms. You may snack at work because you’re stressed or bored, binge at night because you’re lonely, or deny yourself food because you feel rejected and unloved after a bad date. These are situations where you’re not hungry; you’re managing feelings with food.
1) Apply mindfulness to your meals. Mindfulness is a technique that allows you to be fully present in the moment, including when you eat. This will help you recognize when you’re truly physically hungry, when you’re full, and when emotions are taking over. To tune into the present, it helps to “tune out” distractions – TVs cell phones, ipads, and laptops should all be off and out of sight.
2) Before you rush to soothe your feelings with food, stop and assess what’s happening. Observe and describe your feelings. Keeping a diary that allows you to express your emotions on paper is a common tool that is used to help overcome emotionally-driven eating. Ask yourself, “Am I really hungry”. It will help to use the Hunger Scale. If you binge on foods, using the Hunger Scale will essentially stop emotional eating as it does not come from true hunger. Try to keep your hunger controlled and within the 4-7 range on the scale.
3) Have a plan in place. When the urge to emotional eat strikes, have a plan in place to fill the void with something other than food.
• Create a slideshow of pictures of friends and family (puppies?) on your iPhone or an upbeat or relaxing playlist for moments when you’re feeling stressed or sad.
• If time allows, take a walk or a bath.
• Also try music therapy: research shows that listening to music can reduce agitation, and photos of loved ones can replace sadness with a feeling of connectedness. If you are struggling, call a friend or supportive family member.
4) Eat! Make sure you eat a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner every day and don’t skip meals.