We all eat for comfort every now and then. If you have a stressful day at work, you may grab some ice cream or chocolate instead of a healthy alternative. Many of us learn that food can bring comfort, at least for a short time. Small doses of emotional eating aren’t necessarily dangerous, but they can quickly develop into a habit—a habit that can lead to weight gain or prevent you from losing weight. Sometimes, we can habitually turn to food in response to certain emotions like anger, sadness, boredom or even happiness. Situations and emotions that trigger us to eat can fall into these five categories: Social, emotional, situational, thoughts and physiological.
How can I tell if I’ve developed the habit of Emotional Eating?
Here are 4 signs of emotional eating:
1. You eat when you are not physically hungry
2. You find it hard to find food that satisfies you
3. You have food cravings that are triggered by an emotion
4. You eat mindlessly, eating mechanically
Thankfully, there are ways to break the habit of emotional eating. If the main way that you find comfort is through food, use these tips to stop emotional eating before it starts.
Instead of covering up your stress with food, here are some activities that will help you calm down and deal with the issue at hand:
- Remove yourself from the situation or prevent stress from happening again
- Take a deep breath—deep breathing reduces blood pressure and promotes a sense of calmness
- Exercise—go for a walk outside, hit the gym or go for a bike ride to help de-stress and lower any anger
- Take a bubble bath
- Read a good book or listen to music
Feeling Sad or Lonely?
Comfort foods can be associated with happy memories, which is why it can be easy to turn to food for what seems like a quick pick-me-up. Instead, try these activities for a positive boost:
- Exercise—exercise boosts your mood by releasing endorphins (feel-good chemicals) in the brain
- Play with your pet—animals promote health and emotional wellness
- Stay connected with others—social isolation is your worst enemy. Volunteer and connect with your friends and family
There are many ways to calm yourself without counting on the calories. Try journaling, meditation, and connecting with others. Using these tips will help you to practice the art of soothing yourself without turning to food, and end emotional eating once and for all.
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