Answers for Emotional Eating

Answers for Emotional Eating

Emotions can affect all areas of your life and health, including eating. When you eat based on a feeling rather than eating for a genuine need for nutrition and energy, that’s emotional eating. This eating style can make it too easy to take in more calories than we need, or reach for unhealthy foods.

Here are some ways to tell whether what you’re feeling is true hunger or false hunger.

True hunger:

  • Appears at regular intervals throughout the day

  • Appears between three and four hours after your previous meal

  • Healthy foods sound satisfying

  • Your sweet tooth is satisfied by fruit or sweet vegetables, such as sweet potatoes.

  • You’ve had at least one bowel movement in about 24 hours

False hunger:

  • Appears at irregular times and comes on quickly

  • Appears shortly after eating

  • Only specific foods sound satisfying

  • There is constipation, diarrhea, gas, or bloating

  • You crave refined, highly sweetened foods

  • Your hunger is due to emotional state and/or fatigue and dehydration

In the moment when you are choosing to eat or not eat, and what you will eat, stop and ask your body, "What do I need right now to fill my hunger?" If it is conversation, laughter, physical closeness, easing anxiety, rest, or a new perspective, food may not be the answer.

Tips to end emotional eating include:

  1. Dump perfectionism. It’s OK to be less than perfect. If you wander off the path, don’t punish yourself.

  2. If you are already in an emotional eating binge, stop multitasking, focus on your eating. Slow down your chewing. Taste the food. If you can stay present and focus on the food, your rational mind has a better chance of taking charge.

  3. Get out of your head. Do something active, help another person, go outside. A focus outside yourself can help you redirect your responses.

  4. Write down your success stories and read them to remind yourself that you are capable of success!

  5. Seek help for anxiety, depression, and other emotional disturbances.

  6. Get back to your healthy habits as soon as you can. A slip-up is not defeat.

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