Life can sometimes come crashing down on you all at once. Does this sound familiar? -It’s a busy time of the year at your job, your mother’s new medication doesn’t seem to show any improvements, and you forgot to pick up the cake you ordered for this weekend’s party.
You rush to the bakery as soon as you realize you need to pick up your order. While you’re there, you also buy a full box of pastries. On your drive home, you nibble on one. Before you know it you’ve had an additional two pastries, but did not take the time to enjoy any of them.
If this sounds familiar, t-ese are cues of emotional eating. It’s a coping mechanism where you turn to food for comfort when you’re stressed, upset or frustrated, and even when you’re not hungry at all.
The relief you get from food doesn’t last long and the prolonged habit of emotional eating could cause weight gain if your go-to foods are high in calories, sugar, and fat- which they usually are. The excess weight could increase your risk to heart disease, diabetes, and other issues.
We all have our comfort foods and a little emotion eating is perfectly normal. If it’s getting out of hand though and the clothes are starting to get tight, we have some tips get your emotional eating under control.
Here are some tips to help you control emotional eating:
Write it down. Record the thoughts and feelings you’re experiencing before snacking in a journal. Track what you eat, how much you’re eating, and what you’re feeling when you eat. This will help you identify patterns and make connections between your mood and cravings.
Ditch the distractions. When you’re having your meals, turn off all screens and focus on eating your food. Take in all the senses of smell, taste, and look. Make sure to savour every bite, take your time to chew, and stop when your body is telling you it’s full.
Healthy eating doesn’t have to suck. If you catch yourself in the act of emotional eating, take steps to get out of it. Substitute your cravings with nutrient-dense alternatives or reduce portion sizes. Drinking a glass of water first before having a snack can help a lot. Often when we thing we’re hungry a glass of water can curb those cravings. If you’re not hungry at all, go for a walk instead!
Pace yourself. Set small and obtainable goals to change your behavior. You could start simple like eating your meals at a table than while driving. Changing your longstanding habits require your commitment and patience, so don’t be too hard on yourself when you just start out – take it step by step.
Most of all, don’t beat yourself up over it. Guilt over eating will only add to your stress. Once you identify that you want to change, take a small first step and be proud that you are making a change not guilty over why you have to make it.