- Mental Health
"How To" Help for Emotional Eaters
Do you eat when you're upset? Do you notice that when you feel angry, frustrated, or sad your first instinct is to go to the refrigerator - or worse yet, to go out and spend money on some ridiculously expensive, calorie-filled treat? Perhaps you even use food to celebrate when you're feeling well? If this happens to you, you might be an emotional eater. And if you are, you might be someone who is not happy with your weight because emotional eaters tend to gain unwanted pounds since they're eating to fill an emotional need and not an actual hunger. The good news is that once you get a hold of the problem, you can easily lose the weight. It's just a matter of breaking yourself of some habits that you've developed over time.
Here are some tips for emotional eaters:
- Identify the problem itself. You should figure out when you are eating because of a reaction to your emotions. Note if this happens most when you are sad, lonely or angry.
- The best way to identify the problem is to keep a daily diary in conjunction with a food diary. It doesn't have to be a literary work - just some basic notes on what you ate and what you were feeling. This can be a real eye-opener and sometimes is all that emotional eaters need to get on the right track.
- Identify the foods that you eat for emotional sustenance. Your food diary can help with this and so can just a basic assessment of what foods you know are your comfort foods.
- Limit your access to your comfort foods. If you know that you eat a gallon of ice cream every time you're upset, don't keep gallons of ice cream in the house. If you also know that you'll just go out and buy them when you're upset, you can keep a small amount of ice cream around to gradually reduce what you're eating.
- Find replacement comfort foods. There are healthy alternatives to all bad foods so work to find ones that work for you.
- Do the hard emotional work that you need to do to get past the problem once and for all. Yes, you can change your eating habits but the problem is also an emotional one. Figure out why you are an emotional eater. Was food a comfort for you when you were a child? If so, you might need to go back in time and deal with the emotions that you didn't deal with then. You might want to consider getting the assistance of a professional therapist if this is difficult for you.
- Get professional help for eating disorders. If you have a serious problem with emotional overeating, you might need some help. There are places that specialize in help for emotional eaters. For example, A Weight Out is one service that does telephone and other counseling to assist emotional eaters. There are also books and programs for emotional eaters.
You don't have to be a slave to your emotions and your body doesn't have to reflect the emotional problems that you might be coping with. Whether you can conquer the problem on your own or you need some professional help, you owe it to yourself to get to the root of the problem and resolve it once and for all!