4 Simple Tips to Overcome Emotional Overeating
emotional overeating: what is it?
Often misunderstood, emotional overeating is a complex topic, but at the root, it has several components that make it easier to recognize.
Emotional overeating is defined as a disordered eating pattern that is distinguished by the compulsion to eat even if you’re not hungry. Emotional eating tends to happen in response to negative emotions or thoughts. It may be used by some as a coping strategy for dealing with stress or by those who have suffered emotional, physical, or psychological abuse.
Food (particularly sweets) provides comfort for emotional eaters. Unfortunately, the comfort is fleeting and temporary. Emotional overeating also leads to other negative emotions which can create an emotional eating “loop.” It can sabotage your health and weight-loss goals. It can also negatively affect your life and relationships.
Fortunately, there are tips you can use today to mitigate emotional overeating!
Try these strategies:
- Determine what triggers you. Often, emotional overeating is triggered by an event, thought, or feeling.
- If you can figure out what triggers you, then you can take steps to do something about it..
- The most common triggers are stress and negative emotions. Other triggers can be difficult days at work, fights with your family or spouse, and issues with friends or coworkers.
- Determining the meaning beneath this triggers is paramount to overcoming them. By “meaning”, I mean – what does an event, situation, or thought mean about you? Does that comment mean you’re dumb? Stupid? Do that look on someone’s face mean they are angry? Does that thought mean you are a “failure?”
- Only when you’re hungry. This one is often difficult for emotional eaters, but you should aim to only food yourself when you are actually hungry instead of viewing food as a friend or a constant source of comfort.
- This step may take time because changing your eating habits is challenging. If you’ve been dieting for any length of time, your body may have to learn to trust you again. You can make baby steps by making small dietary modifications over time. Learning to listen to your body and paying attention to real hunger pangs will go a long way in this endeavor.
- Create a plan. If, for example, you know that you are triggered after a difficult day at work, then plan ahead and take steps to try to prevent it. Try substituting a more positive action, like going for a walk, that also brings you comfort or reduces your stress.
- By creating “Plan B”s that don’t involve eating, you will be setting yourself up for success.
- Consider, going for a walk or going to the gym to get rid of stress.
- Instead of turning to your fridge and pantry after an argument, consider taking a long hot bath to soak out your frustrations or get on the phone with a friend.
- The key is to find other enjoyable and pleasurable ways to deal with stress and negative emotions.
- Surround yourself with caring people. One of the main reasons many people turn to emotional overeating is because they feel alone and isolated. They don’t have a support network.
- Reach out to family, friends, coworkers, and others for help.
- Build a strong support network of friends to help you deal with negativity and stress. Find those whom you can call or visit without worrying that you’re intruding or upsetting them. In turn, be open to offering them support, too.
- Explain to those who are important to you about your emotional overeating habits so they can help you and provide support. They may be able to provide help or effective techniques that can motivate you to keep trying to defeat the behavior. They can remind you of the tips and tricks you learn when you need help, without being judgmental to help keep you on track.
Emotional overeating is a behavioral habit that doesn’t have to control your life. You can overcome it and change your habits it with these easy strategies.