Last updated: 10/25/2018
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Emotional eating can derail your happiness, health and weight all in a matter of just a short amount of time. You may feel hungry when you’re sad, angry, bored, lonely or otherwise emotional but this is not reason enough to take on large amounts of food and begin to gorge yourself of calories that are unnecessary and unhealthy. Fortunately, if emotional eating is a problem in your life, there are some ways that you can stop emotional eating in its tracks.
Remember, small dietary changes equal big successes when it comes to diet and healthy eating. According to the US National Library of Medicine, emotional eating is triggered by various different cases including stress, comfort, depression or a wide range of other particular options. Regardless of what leads you to the bag of chips, pint of ice cream or fast food joint for your next emotional eating binge, consider these 7 ways to effectively stop emotional eating and get on the fast track to a healthier lifestyle.
1. Understand & Avoid Emotional Triggers
Like other addictions, if you can learn to understand the emotional triggers that cause you to eat and how to avoid them you can cut your emotional eating habits in half. Some of the most common triggers that may be resulting in your emotional eating habits include stress, discomfort, boredom, loneliness, childhood habits such as rewards or other habits taught to you as a child or eating socially.
2. Resort to Other Methods of Fueling Feelings
If you eat because you are stressed, try exercise. If depression is a problem, seek medical help to curb the depressive state and hopefully stop emotional eating habits that are derailing your health. If you you eat when you’re anxious or otherwise nervous, try a calming technique such as meditation, yoga or counting backwards from ten to one. If you still feel like you have to eat, take a short walk or have some water to help curb the craving.
3. Take a Break
Just because you have an almost instant craving for food doesn’t mean that you need to immediately eat. You craving is likely due to a desire to overcome happiness, sadness, anxiety or some other emotion and can easily be worked down simply by taking a break. Instead of turning to food every time you think that you’re hungry, take a break and think about it. If you still feel hungry after 10 minutes, consider a small snack that’s healthy and not full of sugar, fat or salt.
4. Healthy Habits
Stop emotional eating by taking on healthier habits such as daily exercise, adequate rest and relaxation techniques. You can make yourself feel better in many ways without having to give in to the ice cream, salty potato chips or other unhealthy eating habits that you may find normal. Small healthy habits can make fore very big rewards so begin small and work your way up to habits that really make a major difference.
Sometimes, it’s best to spend time with others who are not addicted to food in order to get back on track. Socializing online leaves you vulnerable to being able to eat just about anything, anytime. If you’re out socializing with friends, consider smaller portions and make it a point to eat healthy. Socializing is a way to improve your mood and boost your happiness so that you won’t feel like you need salty, sugary or fatty foods to feel good.
6. Learn to Deal with Emotions
One way to stop emotional eating is to learn how you can effectively deal with emotions. This may include counseling or therapy, it may include anger management or it may include a wide range of other treatment options. If you are lonely, get out more. If you are in need of a supportive background, seek a support group. If you need some help with another area of your life, don’t be afraid to seek the assistance of a counselor or therapist who can help you work through your emotions—without food.
7. Find a Hobby
Emotional eating is often the result of being bored or otherwise feeling like you have nothing else to do but to eat. One of the best ways to stop emotional eating is to find something better to do. Find a hobby that’s fun and stick with it! If you like to exercise, do that. If you like to do arts and crafts, try that. If spending time with friends is your idea of fun, consider a sporting event with friends or a move. There are plenty of opportunities in which you can stop emotional eating without having to give up everything or without having to make extreme changes in your life.
Once you’ve realized that emotional eating is a problem in your life, consider taking any one of or a combination of the following steps to stop emotional eating and get yourself back on the road to a healthy lifestyle. This emotional eating can become a part of your past in which you no longer have to worry about the pain and discomforts that eating out of control ever caused for you.