When it comes to emotional eating, in the moment, food appears to be the answer to your problems. When faced with stress or negative emotions, food can comfort you for awhile and push those feelings away. Unfortunately, this is a quick fix that doesn’t last. Those emotions that you push away start to push back, bubbling up to the surface perhaps stronger than before. This triggers your emotional eating and thus, the vicious cycle begins.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your emotional eating, if you feel out of control and stuck, then you need to discover new ways to fulfill your emotional needs. When you feel emotional fulfillment, you won’t need to turn to food to feel comfort.
Here are 5 ways that you can stop emotional eating in its tracks and meet your emotional needs in healthy ways.
1. Build Connections
Find people who are a positive influence on you. Whether you let them know about your emotional eating is up to you, but just having a supportive network of people can be enough to ease the impulse to turn to food for comfort. Having a friend or loved one to turn to is comforting and actually fulfills your emotional needs more than food can. To put this into practice, make sure to schedule time with others into your week. This may mean a weekly phone call with a friend, going out for coffee or dinner with a group of people, or simply reaching out to a loved one and asking for encouragement when something stressful happens. Having these connections supports you emotionally, way more than food can!
When emotional eating happens, the most common response is to feel guilty about it and beat yourself up over it. Withholding self-compassion will only keep you in the cycle of emotional eating. The only want to break the cycle is to practice more self-compassion. Treat yourself with kindness and face the situation with curiosity rather than criticism. When you do this, you can discover the hidden meaning behind your emotional eating, rather than continuing to beat yourself up and keep you on the emotional eating rollercoaster.
3. Unplug Often
Everyone needs a break and time to recharge. When you don’t take time to relax and unplug, stress and difficult situations will almost always get the best of you, triggering emotional eating. But when you take time to unplug often, you’re better equipped to handle whatever difficult situation comes your way. By slowing down, you can take time to figure out what you need. Do you need support from others? Do you need to laugh and experience some fun? Do you need to sit with your feelings and process them? Discovering what you need to fulfill your emotional needs and stop emotional eating in its tracks can only be done when you take time to unplug.
4.Be Present and Accept Where You’re at
Being present can be a vague instruction but in this context, it means to accept where you are at this present moment. Whether you’re struggling with binge eating on a regular basis or just recently experienced a set back with your eating challenges, it’s important to acknowledge that you’re a work in progress. It’s okay not to have everything figured out and to be working on making changes. By acknowledging this, you will likely feel less stress and pressure to “fix” your emotional eating and thus feel less triggered to turn to food. Allow yourself time to make changes, progress and grow.
5. Practice Mindful Eating
Eating is a really wonderful experience if you take time to be present when you eat. This is known as mindful eating. When you fully experience the taste of your food, the pleasure that food can give and the nourishment it provides, you won’t need emotional eating as an escape or comfort. It IS possible to enjoy food and still be healthy, take care of yourself, respect your body and be happy.