Emotional Eating Part Two: Stop Abusing Food & Take Control

Posted: August 28, 2014 in Blog, Series, Weight Loss
a woman licking her fingers after biting her chocolate donut

In Emotional Eating Part One, we found that many people – emotional eaters – turn to food not when they’re really hungry, but as a comfort during times of physical and emotional stress, and even when they are happy or bored.

The bad news is, not only does emotional eating counteract your weight management efforts by increasing the amount of food you eat, but it gives you another problem to deal with, it makes you feel dejected and it does not solve the problem or stress that caused the extra eating.

Increase Your Awareness

You can start to reduce your emotional eating by making a conscious effort to become aware of everything you eat and every time you eat. Whenever you feel the urge to eat, your first reaction must be to ask yourself whether you are hungry because it’s time to eat, or if the “hunger pangs” you feel are a reaction to an emotion, stress, boredom or any other reason not related to real hunger.

Emotional Eating Part 1 listed some of the more common triggers to emotional eating, including job stress, money problems and relationship issues, But you must become hyper-sensitive to your specific triggers, which can be as innocuous as watching your favourite TV program or rewarding yourself after exercise.

Tips for Curbing Your Emotional Eating

Once you identify the triggers of your emotional eating, it’s time to take steps to reduce the temptation to eat when you’re not really hungry.

  1. Eat regularly – Skipping breakfast only increases your chance of feeling a hunger pang, real or not, and then over-eating to get rid of it.
  2. Plan your meals and snacks – By knowing how much and when you should eat, it is easier to spot the times that you eat “outside the box”.
  3. Eat more slowly – Emotional eating often means you “hoover” your food. Eating too fast leads to over-eating. Take smaller bites, chew your food for longer and learn to spot the times you are eating too fast – it could be emotional eating.
  4. Drink water – Between meals and snacks and while you’re eating, drinking water helps slow down your eating and reduce your urge to eat.
  5. Avoid temptation – We turn to many empty-caloried snack foods and fast foods out of convenience, and when we “gotta have something right now”. Start buying and eating healthier snacks, like nuts and vegetables. If you can’t resist visiting the burger joint, try their vegetarian options.

Emotional eating is not a simple problem to solve. It involves physical and psychological issues at a time when you are already dealing with weight management. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk to your local nutritional counsellor who will help you identify and curb your emotional eating, while maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.