I Stopped Emotional Eating By Doing These 5 Things
I’ve struggled with emotional eating ever since I was 10-years-old.
I clearly remember the late nights of sneaking downstairs to my mom’s kitchen so I could pig out on chips, soda, cookies, cake, and whatever else I could get my hands on. It was my ritual.
I carried this habit with me through the rest of my childhood and early adulthood. I didn’t get a cap on it until the age of 27.
Emotional eating and binge eating are one of those things that can be done without full awareness of why it’s being done in the first place.
When I made myself a huge sandwich in the middle of the night in my mom’s kitchen, do you think I was paying attention to the reasoning behind my actions? Of course not. I was only focused on one thing. Getting full.
Where does the urge to emotionally eat come from?
To gain freedom from emotional eating, you must get to the root of where the desire to do so comes from.
Whether you’re sad, stressed out, tired, overwhelmed, or even happy – there is always some type of emotion behind your emotional eating.
More times than not, you developed the habit to eat as a response of emotion that either makes you uncomfortable or one you would rather not deal with.
In other cases, emotional eating can be used as a coping mechanism. For example, you had a stressful day at work, so a big bowl of ice cream will help you relax.
There are other occasions of boredom; you’re bored, so you end up in the kitchen mindlessly eating junk food as a way to pass time.
I’ll say this again; you must get to the root of where the desire to emotionally eat comes from to gain freedom from it.
emotional eating and weight loss
Without ever getting to the reason behind your emotional eating, it will be almost impossible to have sustained weight loss.
Sure, you may lose weight here and there, but more times than not, you will find yourself yo-yo dieting frequently.
It’s happened to me too many times to count over the last several years.
I always started my weight loss journey off strong by being disciplined. I restricted certain foods, and only ate what was considered “good”.
Of course, I was able to lose weight and keep it off for a short while.
But eventually, once I began feeling overwhelmed, tired, or even excited, I found myself eating more.
Too many of those occasions led to putting back on the weight I lost, sometimes even more.
That frustrating cycle continued until I checked on and dealt with myself internally.
Noticing what triggered my emotional eating and finding ways to combat it helped me have a healthy relationship with food.
I’m hoping these tips will do the same for you.
keeping a record
The first step towards gaining freedom from emotional eating is starting an eating and emotion log.
Keeping a record of your eating patterns can help you see what triggers your desire (and why) to eat emotionally.
Writing things down is a good way to check on what’s going on internally.
When you start your log, there are two ways to do it;
- wait until the end of the day to log your eating habits for that day, or
- log your emotions as you feel them
I’ve personally tried both, and what worked best for me is logging at the end of my day.
This log made me realize that I almost always wanted to emotionally eat in the evenings because I felt overwhelmed by the number of things to be done before getting my kids to bed for school the next day.
I also noticed boredom, aggravation, and even being excited about something were all feelings that contributed to emotional eating as well.
Understanding habits and emotions behind your eating matter!
You don’t have to keep this log up for the rest of your life (unless you want to) but a good rule of thumb I advise is to track your eating habits until the desire to emotional eat is no longer a desire.
You may have to keep up with this practice for a few weeks or several months. Either way, it’s definitely worth the time, effort, and persistence.
addressing the root cause
Once you’ve discovered the emotions behind your eating, it’s time to work on resolving them.
If your emotions are a side effect of something serious such as depression or anxiety, seeking help will benefit you.
Help can come in many ways:
- journaling what you feel
- venting to a trusted friend or relative
- talk therapy, and in some cases,
Bottling your feelings will only do more harm than good. Speaking to someone (and even writing them down) can help you sort out what you feel and why it leads you to emotional eating.
stop. think. retreat.
Many people don’t think before they eat.
They simply get the desire to eat (whether they’re hungry or not) and do so.
But, I believe this is the number one reason people struggle with emotional eating.
It may take some practice, but whenever you get the urge to entertain your junk food ritual, stop and think!
Ask yourself these questions;
Why am I eating right now?
Am I even hungry?
Does my body just need some water?
How am I feeling at this very moment?
If you answer those questions truthfully and see that you aren’t hungry or you realize you are stressed at the current moment, retreat!
Step away from the fridge and put down the bag of chips.
Something as simple as being aware can help you realize your triggers and stop struggling with emotional eating.
This tip goes in hand with the one above.
Being intentional about what you eat and why is another beneficial way to stop emotional eating.
Don’t allow yourself to eat everything in sight just because you had a bad day.
Of course, eating emotionally can feel good at the moment, but remember that regret will be awaiting you once you’re done.
Set your intentons on eating a nutritious meal because you want to feel good internally (plus it’s what your body truly needs to enhance your mood).
Before every meal, ask yourself what your intentions are. If they’re coming from a healthy space, proceed comfortably.
If you want to eat only because you had a terrible day, you know what you need to do. (retreat!)
self-care is the new hobby
You may be used to ravaging the kitchen when your emotions are all over the place, but you can always adopt a new habit – one that is healthy and beneficial.
What do you enjoy doing? What activity brings you relaxation, peace, and leave you feeling positive and refreshed afterward?
Finding a positive hobby can replace emotional eating.
Any time you are tempted to eat because you’re emotional, force yourself to practice your new hobby instead.
I love to write ( hence the blog 😉 ), so any time I have the urge to eat emotionally, I occupy my mind and time to blogging.
Eventually, the urge goes away.
Sure, it took a while to become a habit, but like a muscle, the more you work it, the stronger it gets.
Anything worth having, won't come easy
I hope these tips can be of help to you. With any habit you are wanting to break; it takes time.
Results won’t come overnight, but I promise that as long as you keep working at it, (and I mean truly working hard to change), lasting change will come.
Quitting emotional eating won’t be easy, but I promise it’s worth it.