- Diet & Weight Loss
Stop Emotional Eating: One of The Keys to Successful Weight Loss
Emotional eating is very common nowadays. In fact, it is one of the many reasons why a lot of people are overweight today. Contrary to popular belief, men also suffer from this “waistline-expanding” disorder. I know this personally because I, too, am an emotional eater. However, many information and resources on emotional eating found on the Internet are geared towards women. That is why many people tend to believe that emotional eating is only experienced by women. This is bad news since there are millions of men worldwide who are emotional eaters too.
And I bet, if you’re reading this hub, then you too are an emotional eater.
Unlike physical hunger, emotional hunger is never satisfied no matter how much food you’ve already eaten. The key to overcoming emotional eating is understanding what triggers it—your emotions.
My emotional eating problem began when I started to work for a British SEO company. My job there was very stressful and exhausting. In order for me to cope with the stress, I turned to food. Even though I was not hungry, I constantly found myself eating my favorite snacks. I was fond of chocolate, pasta, pizza, donuts, burgers, bread, ice cream, and so much more. And since eating was generally encouraged at my previous company, I would snack on those food throughout the day. After a few weeks, I started to gain weight. After a few months, I was unrecognizable!
I started to feel depressed because my workmates started to notice that I was gradually becoming fat. My friends who have not seen me for a long time were shocked to see how big I’ve become. When they asked what happened, I just smiled and said, “I can’t help it! I just love eating.”
Though I knew that I needed to stop overeating in order for me to stop gaining weight, I couldn’t helped it. Eating became the means for me to find relief from all the stress my job threw at me. This continued for a couple of months. I’d overeat throughout the day and feel guilty and ashamed afterwards. Because I felt guilty, I would overeat again. It was a never-ending, unhealthy cycle.
Until one day, I decided that I needed to take action. I told myself that I will no longer overeat no matter how stressed or exhausted I was.
That’s how my battle against emotional eating started.
I knew I needed help, so I turned to a friend who seems to know everything—Google! I did my own research and learned some effective ways on how to stop food cravings and overcome emotional eating.
How to Stop Emotional Eating?
Since some of the suggestions from the various websites and blogs I’ve read were general, I decided to personalize them to suit my specific situation. Here are some effective ways to stop emotional eating. These tips have worked for me; make them work for you too.
1. Laugh and laugh again.
I knew that stress was the source of my problem and that eating was my means of stress relief. I figured that if I eliminated the source of my problem, then I’d be able to overcome emotional eating. However, I soon realized that eliminating stress is an impossible feat. Stress is everywhere! At work, at home, at school—you name it.
With stress out of the equation, I turned my attention to my means of relief—overeating. I realized that if I wanted to overcome emotional eating, I needed to replace it. I needed to find a substitute that will work as my new and healthy stress reliever.
And fortunately, a workmate of mine introduced me to a very simple, yet highly entertaining stress reliever. It’s a website called TheMetaPicture. In case you haven’t heard of this website yet, TheMetaPicture is an online platform that’s filled with funny, sarcastic pictures.
Surprisingly, this website was highly effective in helping me experience relief from stress. Every time I’d feel exhausted, irritated, or stressed out, I’d visit this website and have a good laugh. Of course, I’d made sure that my workmates were not around when I had my private comic sessions.
In one way or another, TheMetaPicture helped me take my mind off food. Slowly but steadily, I was able to lower the amount of snacks I’d eat in a day. Indeed, the old adage, “Laughter is the best medicine”, applies even to emotional eating.
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2. Breathe and Drink.
Emotional eating has become an urge for me. I’d feel like my day is incomplete without me snacking on my favorite foods even though I was not hungry. Just like other kinds of impulses, the thought of eating consumed my thoughts. I couldn’t concentrate on what I was doing if could not grab a bar of chocolate or a slice of pizza and stuff it into my mouth.
As a way to combat this, I turned to meditation or deep breathing. And believe me, breathing DOES work. Every time, I’d feel the urge to eat, I’d stop at what I was doing and perform deep breathing. I’d inhale through my nose and exhale through my mouth. I’d repeat this as many times as possible until I’d feel calm. Sometimes, I’d close my eyes and repeat these words inside my head, “I will not eat”.
Sometimes, I’d do variations of deep breathing. I’d inhale as deeply as I can for 5 minutes, keep it for another 5, and then exhale for yet another 5. However, I found out that in order for this technique to be effective, I needed to practice proper breathing, which means breathing through your diaphragm and not through your chest.
After performing this simple yet highly effective exercise, I’d stand up and drink a glass of cold water. I’d repeat this exercise a couple of times throughout the day.
3. Play and Sing.
After a hard day’s work, I’d find myself so stressed out that I just wanted to lie down on my couch, watch TV, and eat. Though I was able to successfully manage my eating problem at work, I needed an activity that will keep me occupied at home—an activity that will serve as a substitute to emotional eating.
I know how to play piano and guitar. I also know how to sing. But because of a busy and stressful schedule, I’d only play during the weekends. But I was so determined to overcome my emotional eating problem, I made a commitment that I would play every day. So, instead of watching TV and eating my way to sleep, I’d grab my guitar, play a song and then sing.
This served as my new “after-work” stress reliever. Every time I’d feel the urge to eat after dinner, I’d do deep breathing and play the piano. I’d listen to a song and try to make a cover out of it. But oftentimes, I’d simply grab my guitar and just sing. I’d do this until the urge to eat subsides.
Playing and singing are not only great stress relievers; they are also great alternatives to emotional eating.
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4. Decide to Change.
Perhaps the most effective method that has helped me overcome emotional eating was my commitment to live a healthier lifestyle. The moment when I became fat was one of the lowest points in my life. But in one way or another I am thankful that that had happened to me. It opened my eyes to a lot of things. One of which was the realization that I was indirectly and unintentionally “trying to kill myself”.
By constantly stuffing my body with unhealthy food, I was preparing my own coffin. Knowing this horrible truth made me realize that I needed to take action. I needed to change my lifestyle.
Once again, I turned to Google. I read a lot of websites and blogs and educated myself about the basics of health and fitness. I grabbed a good fitness program and embarked on a weight loss journey.
I have to say starting was the most difficult part of my weight loss journey. I was not used to exercising, much more to eating the right kinds of food. It was really difficult! But my dedication, commitment, and perseverance helped me make it through the first week, and the second week, and finally the first month.
And since then, I’d never looked back. I’m very thankful that I made that critical decision—the decision that I needed to take control of my life; I needed to change.
These tips have helped me stop emotional eating. However, I cannot guarantee that they will work for you too since each one of us is unique. What might have worked for me may not work for you. But just give them a try. You have nothing to lose but a lot to gain. Feel free to modify and personalize the tips I’ve given to suit your specific situation.
Finally, always remember that only you can solve your emotional eating problem. So take responsibility of your life today and take action for you to achieve your weight loss goals .