Do you find yourself reaching for food to cope with the onslaught of emotion? From agony and boredom to grief and worry, eating in response to your feelings — and not in response to hunger — is considered emotional eating. Stress, sadness, boredom and depression all can be triggers for seeking comfort in food. If you're not aware of what you're doing, you may be unknowingly sabotaging your best efforts to maintain a healthy weight. Your first step toward freedom from emotional eating is to realize that you are using food as a crutch to cope. After that, you can explore what works for you to help fend off the need to feed your feelings and to begin to cope with the powerful emotions that lead you to eat. How can you help yourself break the cycle of emotional eating?
Follow these tips:
- Be aware of your stress.
- Fill your time with activities you enjoy.
- Try yoga, go for a walk or meditate.
- Ask yourself if you are really hungry before picking up that next square of chocolate, handful of pretzels or bag of chips, and wait a while to see if the craving will pass.
- Write down what you eat and when. You may see a pattern and can use that to change your behavior.
- Remove unhealthy foods from your home, and give practicing moderation your best shot.
- Get adequate sleep.
- Talk to someone. Whether it's a family member, friend or health care provider, opening up to someone you trust about what you're going through can relieve the feelings of guilt you likely carry.
- If the urge to eat around your emotions persists, reach for something healthy instead of junk food.
- Find support and encouragement with others in your same situation.
We can help you find a healthy relationship with food. For more information on dietary health, visit Providence Nutrition Services. You also can register for an emotional eating class with Providence.