Breaking Free from Emotional Eating
9 out of 10 of my clients self-confess that they are emotional eaters, usually attributing it to a stressful situation that has occurred in their life or a habit they have developed of overeating – possibly at night.
If you’re an emotional eater, you’re not alone. Food is the most common means of dealing with negative feelings. While the occasional bowl of ice cream won’t cause any harm, many people take it too far.
“Experts estimate that 75% of us overeat not because we are hungry, but rather in response to feelings. And when our eating is spurred by emotions, we tend to consume mostly junk food.” Getting Over Overeating #1
As a Health and Wellness Coach, together we can find ways to help you stop emotional eating so that you can achieve your goals. Freeing yourself from self sabotage will open up opportunities. It’s so thrilling to watch clients move forward!
If you want to improve your relationship with food, you need to break free from emotional eating and in this blog, you will learn a few tips to identify and control emotional eating.
4 Tips to Identify Your Emotional Eating Triggers
Tip #1 - Understand How Emotional Eating Works
Emotional eating occurs when you use food to manage your feelings, rather than to satisfy your hunger. So, you are not hungry, but you want to eat. For example:
“When I feel sad, I eat ice cream to soothe myself. I learned to do this when I was a child and Grandmother gave us ice cream anytime we were distressed……
Understanding what you are eating and why is the first step to identifying the source of your emotional eating.
Consider your family history. The way you eat may be grounded in patterns that started in childhood. Maybe you were rewarded with homemade cake/ice cream when you got good grades or because you were sad about something.
It's okay to take pleasure in food and enjoy sharing it with others. Concerns arise only when emotional eating interferes with your health and wellbeing.
Tip #2 – Journal Your Behavior
It's easier to spot patterns when you write down when and why you eat. You may notice that you snack on potato chips when you're bored, even though you've just eaten a full meal.
Here is a real life example from a client: “For me, if my eating was off for the day, I will start “hunting” for food at night. Sometimes I catnap on the couch while watching TV, get up, eat 300 or more calories of unhealthy foods and then go to sleep. Ugh… that’s the worst. When you wake-up, you aren’t hungry, may not eat enough or any breakfast, eat a light lunch because you still feel gross, eat a light dinner and then your body says – I’m hungry… and the pattern repeats.”
It’s so key to take time this week and monitor, journal and recognize your behavior around food.
Tip #3 – Self-reflect Why Your Eating is Out of Control
Now that you have written down your behaviors, it’s time for some self-reflection.
For example: You may have lost control of your eating habits and you want to make healthier choices but keep backsliding. Be honest with yourself if you resolve to have yogurt for breakfast but wind up stopping off for a bacon sandwich on the way to work.
Are your mornings super stressful and then heading to work just seems overwhelming so eating something you prefer makes it tolerable?
Unhealthy foods can cause a myriad of health issues when consumed in large quantities. Negative eating also takes a toll on your self-esteem. Feeling out of control isn’t empowering. You can regain that sense of control by eliminating emotional eating from your life.
Tip #4 – Decide to Break Free from Emotional Eating
You now understand what emotional eating entails, you have journaled your own emotional eating habits and you have self-reflected on why your eating is out of control. At this point, let’s commit that we will break free from emotional eating!
I am happy to have this commitment from you! Below is a statement that I recommend you complete this week. It’s important that before you start emotionally eating again that you decide what you will do instead to combat the eating. You can read a chapter in a book, mediate, write a letter to friend, exercise and/or take a bath.
When I feel _________, I eat _______________ to ____________________________________.
I learned to do this ______________________________________________________________.
As an adult, ___________________________________________________________________.
Instead of eating ____________ when I am ___________, I could ________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________
Liberate yourself from emotional eating so you can protect your health and enjoy your food more. These methods will help put you back in control. Here are three (3) bonus tips:
Bonus Tip #1 – Get Adequate Sleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation, Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night read more..., When you don’t get adequate sleep, hormones are released and you overeat! It’s a fact! Make a commitment to get sleep this coming week and see if your emotional eating is more controlled.
Bonus Tip #2 – Drink More Water
Did you know that sometimes you may confuse thirst with hunger? Make sure you drink adequate water each day. One rule of thumb is to drink ½ of your body weight in fluid ounces of water each day. For example: If you weight 150 lbs., drink 75 oz of water each day and spread the consumption throughout the day. It may seem like a lot at first and you may be in the bathroom more than you like, but it’s so healthy and may help to control your “hunger”.
Bonus Tip #3 – Choose an Affirmation Statement to Repeat Everyday
Below are several affirmation statements that you can use. Choose a couple of them and print them out. Tape them on your refrigerator, bathroom mirror, by your bed or type one on the home screen of your phone. Wherever you need to be reminded you can control your eating, you are strong and powerful.
- I have conquered emotional eating.
- In the past, I would use food to provide comfort in my life. Now, I eat to satisfy my hunger rather than my feelings. I can tell the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger. The guilt of emotional eating is gone.
- My relationship with food is healthy and I have the desire and willpower to continue this positive mindset. I enjoy being able to leave the old, needy mindset behind.
- I recognize the triggers that lead to emotional eating and stop these triggers in their tracks. I am free of food cravings that tempt me to resort to my old ways. I use food to fill my stomach instead of some void in my life.
- I let go of using food as my coping mechanism. I experiment with other techniques for calming myself and dealing with stress. I meditate and exercise regularly.
- I find effective ways to satisfy my emotional needs. I reach out to others for guidance and help with managing my emotions.
- Today, I recognize my ability to overcome emotional eating and feel pride in my successful efforts. I have control over what I eat and when I eat it.
Eating is an effective, but unhealthy, way to make us feel better in the moment. Stopping the cycle of emotional eating requires finding another way to deal with discomfort. Emotional eating is a learned behavior. You CAN learn to deal with life differently. Love yourself and make a commitment to gain control of your behavior.
I am super excited for you to break free from emotional eating. If you have some of your own ideas and tips you could share, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org