Emotional eating is eating (and overeating) in response to your feelings or emotions. Stress eating, comfort eating, eating when you are anxious or bored or upset are all types of emotional eating. Emotional eating is a major cause of overeating, weight gain, and weight re-gain after weight loss. Because food is so available and so easy to squeeze in to an overloaded schedule, emotional overeating can be a tempting trap for busy high-achievers.
Unfortunately, identifying that you are an emotional eater is not all you need to do to control it. Trying to go “cold turkey” or just “not give in to it” are approaches that usually fail.
If you are an emotional overeater, I have three strategies to help you take control and begin creating new, more effective habits–three things you can do instead of eating.
Emotional eating often happens when you are in overdrive. You might be feeling pressured, stressed, or overwhelmed. Maybe you have too much to do or maybe you have a task you aren’t sure how to begin. Perhaps you are exhausted but feel that you have to keep going, or you feel like the way to feel better is to “do” something. These are situations where you might find yourself reaching for chocolate, taking an extra portion, comforting yourself with a special “treat,” or using food to “zone out.” When you are in overdrive, the idea of stopping, or taking a break may feel very counter-intuitive (and even counter-productive), but believe me, it isn’t.
When you are in overdrive you are not in control. You are reacting to the pressures and demands you feel—probably in an “automatic pilot” kind of way (like mindlessly reaching for a snack you aren’t really hungry for).
Stopping allows you to regain control and make a deliberate choice about your behavior.
Try this: Practice stopping—even for 60 seconds. Take a few deep breaths and tune in to how you are feeling—both physically and emotionally. Whatever you come up with, say it out loud or write it down. “I am tired.” “I am nervous.” My neck is tense.” Now, ask yourself this: “Right now–what do I need? What would help me with the way I am feeling?”
In my next post, I’ll be sharing the next two strategies that make a huge impact on gaining control of your eating habits.
Take good care,