Do you eat more than you should at all different times of the day? Do you crave “comfort foods” regularly and often indulge? Do you find yourself eating to “make yourself feel better”? After meals do you still snack on foods that you know you shouldn’t be eating?
If you do any of these you are exhibiting some emotional eating symptoms and are most likely an emotional eater. Don’t beat yourself up if you recognize yourself in these symptoms. Know that you are NOT your symptoms. You ARE someone who can be free of this!!! Hang in there and keep reading!
Here are some practical ways you can avoid emotional eating and get back to a more normal eating routine.
Emotional and Physical Hunger
Physical hunger is more of a gradual thing and it will come on over time; whereas emotional hunger is very abrupt and can happen at any time. Emotional eating is when you’re eating to fill some void in your life and it’s not really physical hunger. You’ll eat foods that you should eat because you crave pleasure more than nutrition. So emotional eating occurs because of some emotion we feel; such as sadness, emotional pain or even boredom and depression.
One thing emotional eating can do is make you feel guilty for eating foods that you know you shouldn’t. You know what I’m talking about. Instead of one scoop of ice-cream, you eat the entire half-gallon container. Or instead of a small handful of chips, you eat the entire bag. Since you already feel guilty you want to cover that guilt by eating even more. It’s a vicious cycle… an emotional eating roller coaster that keeps you bound up.
How To Avoid Emotional Eating
There are several things you can do to avoid emotional eating. The triggers for it are going to be different for each individual but here’s how you can control it better in your life.
Remove Bad Foods from Your Home
One of the easiest ways to control emotional eating is to remove all the junk foods such as pizza, cookies, crackers, cakes, and soda from your home. If you have to actually cook anything and take time to prepare it than you’re going to think twice about the food you’re eating.
Replace these sinful comfort foods with ones that are healthy for you. You made have to learn what those kinds of foods are, but do your research. The more informed you are, the better you will feel about your choices.
When your emotions get you down you can choose to eat food that’s good for you and provides you nutrition. It’s much easier to make healthy choices when you don’t have immediate access to unhealthy foods. This will help you to eat healthy when you’re having stress eating problems.
Find Things to Do
Another way you can find help with emotional eating is to just find things to do besides eating food. This can include doing laundry, playing cards, talking with friends, cleaning a room and so on. You need to get your mind off of food and onto something else. Maybe you could take up a hobby or a sport. The important part is finding something that will give you something to focus on other than food. Physical exertion is almost always a good choice.
It’s different for each person. I personally believe the best choice is to fill that need with serving others and serving God. He wants to help you with this. You’re not alone! (Check out the Book to the left.) However, you may feel your best choice is exercise, sports or a hobby. Just make sure you aren’t replacing one addiction for another. For example, be careful to not turn to shopping instead of eating. That can get pretty expensive and start a whole new realm of problems for you.
Eat Small Portions
One way to work on your emotional eating symptoms is to use small portions. Have small bowls or plates and divide the food into smaller portions. This way you can have a little ice cream or a few chips and you can satisfy that emotional need. However, ultimately, you have to learn to fulfill the need within with something other than food.
See a Doctor
If you still find you need help with emotional eating you might want to see a doctor or a therapist to work through what is triggering you to eat emotionally. It’s perfectly healthy to seek counsel or advice in an area of need. Don’t try to do it all on your own. You’ll need a support system. If you need to, start with a professional.
You CAN stop emotional eating! It’s all about choices. Daily choices… sometimes even minute by minute choices. But you CAN do it!
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