Wellness Wednesday: Combatting Emotional Eating
Emotional eating is the inclination to increase your intake of food, especially unhealthy food, in times of stress, anxiety, sadness or anger. It is also something that almost all of us have been guilty of at one time or another. Emotional eating can be a barrier between to healthy weight maintenance or loss goals by adding unnecessary calories to the diet and by fostering an unhealthy relationship where food becomes a psychological and emotional coping mechanism. The tendency to emotionally eat can feel inescapable, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are five strategies for coping with emotional eating.
1. Notice and Name: In order to tackle emotional eating, you first need to know that you are doing it. Keep a food journal and record not only what you eat, but also your mood. This will allow you to identify episodes of emotional eating so that you can further analyze them.
2. Breathe Through the Negativity: Negative emotions happen. Trying to deny their existence is like trying to fight the pull of the tide. Thankfully, they are usually temporary. Think if negative emotions like a virus. Just like a virus, negative emotions must run their course. By eating or trying to cover them up by eating, you only give them more power. The next time that you experience a negative emotion, I challenge you to just acknowledge it instead of running to food. Stay strong and breathe and it will likely go away.
3. Fight The Vice: When you eat during a negative emotion, you are giving that emotion power, power to change your behavior towards food into an unhealthy relationship- making food a vice. Don’t give in to your vices. If you feel you cannot go without eating when stress or sadness strike, consider munching on healthy foods like carrot sticks and other vegetables.
4. Find Healthy Ways to Cope: Finding your inner strength and composure in time of stress is hard, especially if you are trying not to use food as a coping mechanism. The key to healthy stress management is finding coping mechanisms that don’t cause more problems than they cure. When evaluating a behavior or activity as a means of coping, ask yourself: “Will doing this make me feel better or worse tomorrow?” or “Will I be disappointed in myself if I do this?” If you can say “Yes” to the first and “No” to the second, chances are the behavior you are considering is healthy.
5. Stay the Course: Its easy to stay on track when life is easy and uncluttered. It’s the hard parts in life that define us as individuals and show our real commitments. Challenge yourself to remain healthy when the going gets tough and you will know for sure that you have triumphed over your emotional eating, no matter what life throws at you. You can do this.