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How to Stop Emotional Eating

Updated on January 12, 2015

For millions of people, eating isn't just reserved for mealtime and the occasional snack. Many people succumb to idly eating in front of the television or while at their desk. What some of these people don't realize is that stress and other emotional baggage may be triggering their impulsive eating habits. Emotions such as anxiety, sadness, boredom, and even a sense of loneliness can trigger a trip to the refrigerator or vending machine. In fact, most people who are overweight and suffer from obesity are emotional eaters according to psychiatrist, Roger Gould, MD. Some are aware of their eating habit and tend to feel guilt on top of the other emotions, whereas others are completely oblivious that they are sabotaging their own health.

So what can be done to help you stop your emotional eating habit? Many people have linked their emotions to food so that they seem to go hand in hand. The most important key to ending the overeating cycle is to be able to disconnect your connection between emotional stress and food.

Identify What Drives You to Eat

Be consciously aware of not only what you are eating but when you are eating and why. Before you head to the pantry for that bag of chips or the refrigerator for a tantalizing dessert, honestly evaluate why you're even what it to begin with. Keep a journal of the date, time of day, what you are feeling at the time and what caused you to feel this way. Being honest with yourself is going to be the hardest part. Once you identify what emotions cause this type of eating, it will be easier utilize the ways to put an end to this habit all together. However, if you are feeling strong emotions such as depression and anxiety that prohibits you from barely getting out of bed or thoughts of suicide, it is time to seek the help of a therapist.

Find an Non-food Replacement

For many people trying to get rid of bad habit, they replace it with a positive habit. This could be anything from writing in a journal and doodling to going for a walk or finding a new hobby. Sometimes calling a friend for support instead of shoveling food to your mouth can be a much better use for your mouth and you're overall emotional health. Having a friend that is supportive during this time will be quite helpful in your battle against emotional eating. You don't need to avoid your emotions, just replace the reaction with something more productive as well as enjoyable.

Give Yourself a Pep Talk

Many people who suffer from overeating beat their selves up about it. This only makes the negative emotion worse. Just because you ate a whole gallon of ice cream doesn't make you a bad person. Simply acknowledge that your emotions are the culprit in this. You are only human and humans are far from perfect. As you do this, you will then be able to move into giving yourself a pep talk and truly realizing the second piece of pie really isn't necessary. The point is that the more you become conscious of your habits and encourage yourself toward success, the easier it will be to finally be rid of the overeating habit all together. Several people 'fall off the wagon' so don't let it bring you down. Simply pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and start again. Practice always makes perfect.

Pamper Yourself

Many people forget to care for their own needs while worrying about others wants and needs. This is particularly true for women. Everyone needs to learn how to take time out for themselves. It doesn't necessarily mean you have to break the bank. Simply waking up a little early to enjoy a nice quiet morning before the hustle of the day starts can really boost your mood for the day. Perhaps it is even a soothing bubble bath at the end of the day that will help you relax your worries away.

Portion Control

Another bad habit of emotional eating is large servings. When sitting down for a meal, be mindful of the portion amount. There is no need to feel as though you will have to starve yourself, just simply don't overdo it on the amount of food you put on your plate. Many emotional eaters will even go back for a second helping, although there is not any physical need to do so. Again, it's about be aware of every bit you take and eliminating the guilt.

Quality Control

Consider the types of foods you eat. Try to cut out all junk food and focus on healthier foods. Healthy foods as well as healthy portions will help keep your appetite satisfied. Eliminating junk food will help with will power as well. If you should go on an emotional eating binge, 'falling off the wagon' with healthy foods would be much better than doing it with junk foods.

Scheduling Meals and Snacks

Try making a schedule of when and what you shall eat ahead of time. Eating at the same time each day will help keep your eating habits in balance and help prevent the urge to overeat. It will also aid the process of separating food with emotion. Only allow yourself to eat at your scheduled meal times, allowing for three meals a day and two small snacks. To help get you into a better mindset consider meals and snacks just like a medication routine. With any medication, you have a time of day you take it and same goes for food. You only take in foods at the scheduled time. Just as you wouldn't overdose on medication, neither should you when it comes to food so again be mindful of portion control.

Drink Water

Water is a key to a healthy life. Drinking 8-10 glasses or bottles of water a day will help give you a 'full' feeling. This will help you fight the urge to snack when the going gets tough. Water also has other healthy benefits such as healthy, balance skin and beautiful, nourished hair. This will help boost your self-esteem that will combat stress triggers.

Once you recognize what causes emotional eating and decide to take an active role in preventing it, you will notice how much better you feel not just physically but emotionally as well. However, for some people change takes time therefore success may not happen overnight but never get discouraged. Take things one day at a time, and don't allow setbacks to keep you from your ultimate goal. Try to keep a positive attitude and if necessary seek outside help to encourage you on your way to success.

© 2014 L Sarhan

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    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 

      4 years ago

      Good advice and I appreciate your interesting hub. Thank you for sharing.

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