We’re all susceptible to emotional eating from time to time. When we’re stressed, bored, or dealing with a problem, we may turn to food for comfort. This can lead to overeating and can quickly sabotage your weight-loss efforts.
Fortunately, emotional eating isn’t a permanent condition. It’s a habit, and any habit can be changed with a little effort. By following these steps, you can regain control of your eating habits and get back on track with your weight-loss goals.
1. Get Down to the Root Cause
Emotional eating doesn’t happen for no reason. Often, we eat for comfort because we’re experiencing deep-rooted feelings of inadequacy. If you’re trying to lose weight, this may be especially true.
Think back to a time when you were proud of your body. You felt confident and in control because you were making healthy choices and watching your weight. This is the way you want to feel, so it’s essential to take a step back and try to figure out why you feel this way.
Once you’ve identified the source of your negative emotions, you can work on replacing them with positive thoughts and feelings. Group counseling and support groups can help you to do this more quickly.
2. Listen to Your Body and Eat When You’re Hungry
When you’re dealing with emotional eating, it’s crucial to develop strategies for recognizing when your emotions are playing a role. One way to do this is to start paying attention to your body. Eat when you’re hungry, and stop eating when you’re full.
It’s also important to eat when you’re truly hungry. If you’re bored and think you might eat too much, you’re probably not hungry. If this is the case, give yourself a little time to relax. Take a bath or walk around the block. If you’re still hungry after that, prepare a healthy meal.
3. Recognize When You’re Bored or Stressed
When you’re bored, your mind wanders. You may think about the food that you want to eat and how satisfying it would be. This thinking can turn into a cycle: you start thinking about food, realize you’re hungry, eat too much, and then feel guilty.
This isn’t a productive cycle and can lead to weight gain.
If you’re too stressed out to sleep, you’re probably too stressed to be hungry. Instead of turning to food for comfort, try taking deep breaths to calm yourself down. Take a hot bath or engage in another stress-relieving activity.
4. Eat Food That Fights Stress
Hormones produced by stress can contribute to food cravings. Fortunately, there are healthy ways to combat stress in your diet.
Eat foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, walnuts, and flax. These “good fats” reduce stress, help to fight depression, and support healthier brain function.
Reduce your sugar intake. Sugar can be addictive, and it’s easy to overeat sugar when you’re stressed. Instead, opt for complex carbs, like whole grains and vegetables. They provide a steady source of energy and release energy slowly, so you won’t be tempted to overeat.
5. Find an Emotional Solution to an Emotional Problem
Eating can be a useful coping mechanism, but it doesn’t address the underlying problem. If you’re emotional eating, you need to find a way to deal with the emotional issues that are contributing to the problem.
If you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or sad, try taking up a new activity that will help you release your negative emotions. Go visit a friend, go to a movie, or read a book. Try journaling to get your feelings out on paper.
It’s only natural to reach for food when you’re feeling stressed, bored, or frustrated. But this habit isn’t good for your body or your emotional well-being. If you’re dealing with emotional eating, take action quickly. These steps will help you deal with emotional eating and assist you in regaining control of your eating habits.
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