Welcome Back. Last week in Part 1 of Emotional Eating, we discussed what exactly it is, and signs that indicate you suffer from it.
This week we’re going to dive deeper and discuss some emotional triggers to look out for and how to end emotional eating once and for all. It’s gonna take some work, but you can do it, girl!
How to Find Your Triggers
Most people are well acquainted with the knowledge that overeating is unhealthy and can make you vulnerable to various complications, but where do you go to learn what causes lead to these habits? Today we’ll be looking at some of the factors that trigger emotional eating, and sharing some tips on how you can avoid these triggers.
Some foods trigger powerful cravings and memories that send a person into a state where they don’t consider what they are putting in their body. Strong emotional, or cultural identification with specific foods can begin at an early age, so these habits can become very deeply embedded into an individuals identity. Marketing research companies spend billions of dollars learning how to connect the emotions of the consumer to their products, so thinking about the kinds of food you consider are very important. One extremely effective tool that you can use to help you find out what is happening with your eating habits, is to begin keeping a journal.
As you write down what kind of foods you eat, it’s also good to make a note of how you’re feeling at the time of the craving. Strong emotions of any kind can affect how you chose to go about your eating habits during meal time, and it’s important to note that they can be both positive and negative emotions. When a person is emotionally eating, it frees the mind of the burden of focusing on issues and allows for an escape. It can also provide a pleasurable experience that allows the eater a feeling of being rewarded. Studies have shown that food can light up the same areas of the brain that react in drug addiction, so that means that serious thought and planning must go into combating these habits.
Last, and certainly not least is your environment. This can cover a wide variety of variables such as who you are spending time with, where you are located, and what kinds of events are taking place. Some people find public situations highly stressful, while some others may find alone time to be stressful. Overeating often takes place when the subject is alone, but every case is different. This is another reason why keeping a journal can be very helpful, because it enables and empowers you to take an honest look at your triggering factors. Recording this information can expose a pattern and help you overcome the difficult habit of emotional eating.
Tips For Putting a Stop To Emotional Eating
People often say that the first step to conquering any habit is recognizing that there is a problem, but what can you do to change or stop the behaviour? In this next part I’ll be sharing some of the factors and tips on how you can put a stop to emotional eating.
One very effective way to find out the what, where, and when of emotional eating is, as I mentioned above, to begin a process of keeping a journal. Much of the drives to engage in emotional eating are subconscious, so keeping a journal will be a powerful tool in discovering what the circumstances or experiences may be that lead to a session of emotional eating. Write down every time you decide to eat (I used to keep a small notepad in my purse so I never had the excuse that I didn’t have something to write on). During the note taking, document details of the events by asking yourself questions. How hungry were you on a scale of 1 – 10? Where were you when the eating took place. Were you at work, school, home or out in public? Were you with friends, loved ones, coworkers or alone? You might be surprised to find that subtle, yet visible patterns emerge.
After you’ve spent some time taking notes, compiling information, and asking yourself key questions, you may find what some of the major triggering events might be. If you have asked yourself the questions and found that you were less than a 6 in hunger, and cravings appear during specific situations, you could be stress eating. One of the easiest ways to quit almost any habit is to simply replace the unhealthy behaviour with healthy behaviour. For example, you can keep healthy, low calorie snacks like almonds and an apple handy. There are also some delicious teas which contain nutrients that help curb hunger, aid metabolic function, and a few like black tea are known to lower stress hormones by nearly half during consumption.
Alternatively, other methods such as exercise and deep breathing can be very effective in managing stress in the moment, or at the end of your day. Shallow breathing has been found to increase stress in the body, so spending the time to allow your body a chance to concentrate on breathing can lead to many health benefits. Exercise and breathing go hand in hand, so a healthy regimen can go a long way to putting you on the path to success.
My absolute fave way to destress is to hit the gym. It’s no secret if you follow me on Instagram, how much I value my workout-time. Even a quick 30-min or less sweat sesh (like this one) can do wonders for suppressing your appetite and releasing feel good hormones like serotonin.
Other forms of self care include:
- reading your fave magazine or suspense novel
- yoga, foam rolling or just some gentle stretching
- walks outside in nature. Even if you live in the City and can’t get to the local park, a 10 minute walk down the street and then back is 20 minutes of fresh air that does your body a world of health wonders
- playing with your pooch
- meditating (or just letting your mind wander – that’s how I meditate)
- and the obvious ones like a trip to the spa for a mani, pedi, massage, or all 3! (these however take a bit more planning and I’m sharing quick and instant ways to act of forms of self care)
Of course, it goes without saying that there are many levels of how deep your emotional eating habits go. If you’ve tried all these tips and hints but nothing has changed, I strongly urge you to see your doctor so he/she can advise you further.
You don’t have to be a slave to food any longer. Be strong and brave. Step into your responsibility to take care of your health, physically and mentally. Because you my sweet friend, deserve it!
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