24 A 2021

5 Ways to Stop Emotional Eating

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5 Ways to Stop Emotional Eating

We talked about emotional eating in previous articles and I received a lot of questions on how to stop emotional eating whenever it is happening or about to happen. So, now that we know what emotional eating is, how to recognize it and how to deal with it using H.A.L.T. It is time to add some tools to our toolbox. 

Here are my top 5 ways to stop the emotional eating:

1. Remove the temptations.
We all have that something that triggers us to start eating without control, for some people it can be cereals, chocolate, candy, gummy bears etc. Whatever makes you feel the urge to binge without control remove it from the house, make it difficult to reach or hide it from your sight. 
There is some controversy around this step! There is this group of experts saying that removing everything that triggers you is not the way to solve the emotional eating and that you will have to learn how to self-control. Yes, this could be partially true but let’s ask this: what happens when you reach that point of self-control and self-discipline? Let’s take this as an example: You enter the house where you have your favorite chocolate in a bowl in the middle of your living room's table. You are self-controlled and self-disciplined once, twice but then comes that day you enter the house tired, stressed from the job, emotionally drained, frustrated and hungry, no meal is prepped or ready for you to eat and there is you seeing that tempting bowl of chocolate. You eat it, it gives you the prompt to keep eating…then you feel guilty about it and this is where it starts all over again. 

So, yes we want to reach that point of feeling comfortable with any food around but it doesn’t have to happen from the early stages. So, removing temptations, making it hard for you to reach is a fairly good approach to control emotional eating at the early stages of stopping binge eating. 

2. Keep a journal.
Writing down how you feel when you feel you are about to emotional eat is a very good way to realize and see clearly what is happening from the inside. Sometimes we are so over distracted by everything around us that we do not realize what we actually feel. Writing it down makes it clear for us to see, observe and then use our tool H.A.L.T. Remember, you don’t need to get fancy here, if you don’t have a journal, just write it down anywhere, even on your phone (I am a bit traditional though so I would recommend a piece of paper but whatever works for you). It is shocking how much power the words we write have, try to go back to what you wrote and see how strongly it takes you back to the exact feelings you had. It is an eye opener.

3. Distract yourself.
When we usually give in to emotional eating, we search for our craving-related food. Try to distract yourself. If it is a real hunger, you would eat anything to satisfy it but if it is a craving, if it feels like an emotional type of hunger then try to distract yourself by doing anything for 10 minutes and it will eventually and gradually disappear. Seems easy right? Trust me, it works. If you were hungry, you would still be hungry after the 10 minutes as well. If this is the case, then go ahead and eat some food. Distracting yourself, even if it sounds weird will make you see more clear what you really want.

4. Cook something healthy
Preparing something healthy and at the same time delicious (healthy doesn’t mean boring) will help you feel that you are rewarding yourself rather than choosing something that will make you feel guilty afterwards and possibly open the cycle of overeating. Try to be creative with your food try to add ingredients you like, vegetables you like, spices you like. There are so many recipes out there that can help you create something tasty and fulfilling. Also the process of cooking something on your own will distract you from any negative emotion you might be dealing with and associate it with emotional eating. 
So, there you go! Visit your kitchen and be creative! 

5. Exercise.
When exercising the body releases the hormone of happiness, the endorphins!
Trying to make any kind of movement a daily habit will help you improve your mood, release some stress and tension from the day and even at the moment of emotional eating, it will help you feel that you are doing something good for yourself. Don’t be too harsh on yourself with this. Exercising for one person might mean lifting heavy while for another means breathing 1 minute and stretching another 3 minutes. Scale it down to the point where it feels super easy to sustain consistency and just go for it.

What I would like people to understand is that emotional eating is a habit that has been built over the days, months or years. Sometimes we don’t even realize it until we read about it or hear someone talking about it and that’s when all starts to make sense. Feeling guilty after eating, eating and feeling disgusted at the same time is not how we are supposed to feel. We eat food so we can have energy, we eat food to enjoy with our friends but we don’t want to let food “eat” us. With determination and consistency we can definitely take over the control and for me these 5 steps are my best way to stop emotional .
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