We eat when we’re happy, sad, stressed and when we’re alone and it’s quiet. The connection between food and mood is intensely intermingled and so hard to untangle.
There are all sorts of reasons why we eat. The physical signal to eat is very subtle, therefore it often gets confused with other signals or emotions. Such as: “Am I hungry or thirsty?” or “I’m bored…what’s in the fridge?”
The world of dieting works to block the connection between the mind and proper hunger signals. The cornerstone of a diet is to ignore hunger. A diet does not use our highly effective and accurate hunger signals, but a predetermined eating plan.
By the time people come to see a dietitian or nutritionist, they often think that their body is doing something wrong or their metabolism is not functioning. But in fact, their body is working perfectly, it is chronic dieting that has interfered with their ability to read what their body is telling them what to do to be healthy and maintain a healthy weight.
Steps to reduce emotional eating:
1) The first line of attack against emotional eating, is to first make sure you are eating in a regular pattern. Eating regularly ensures that your body is properly nourished and working at its optimum. Withholding food during the day for fear of overeating at night, or to make up for mistakes the day before, will only ensure that that happens.
Eating regularly, means eating 3 meals and at least 2 snacks, spread throughout the day.
2) Don’t skip food items. Cutting out “carbs” makes one crave them later and more intensely in easier to absorb ways. Example: saying no to brown rice at lunch with your stirfry = chocolate bingeing at night.
3) Distraction. If you know that you are not physically hungry, but still have the urge to eat, try thinking of something else to do to distract yourself. Think of a healthy alternative to eating for every mood that could strike. Such as calling a friend when feeling lonely, going for a walk if feeling a bit anxious, doing a fun craft or watching your favourite TV show for boredom, taking a warm bath to de-stress.
4) Meditation and journaling. Making good connections on what you are thinking and feeling during the day and how that connects to how you eat is your best tool to combat emotional eating, over-eating, bingeing or just plain poor eating habits.