Emotional Eating: Are You in Control?

Many people find it difficult to stick to a solid nutrition plan. They have emotional issues with food. And emotional eating leads to problematic patterns and eventual weight gain.

But it doesn’t have to be that way…

One client of mine has taught herself to recognize that hunger can often be a sign of negative emotions and stress.

She works a full-time demanding job, has children living at home and volunteers on the side. And trying to balance multiple demands on her time was causing her to be out of touch with her internal hunger signals.

How did she gain control of her eating habits?

She learned to recognize the difference between physical and emotional hunger.

Physical Hunger:

  • Comes on gradually
  • Can be satisfied with a wide range of healthy foods
  • Once full, can stop eating
  • Doesn’t cause guilt

Emotional Hunger:

  • Feels urgent
  • Causes cravings
  • Tendency to overeat
  • Often causes guilt

She then learned to slow down. When the urge to indulge in treats or fast food sets in, she now takes a step back and tries to determine the cause of her emotions that are triggering the hunger.

She doesn’t always find the exact root cause – but that’s OK. She goes easy on herself.

There is no judgement here and no over-analysis.

She takes a few long and slow breaths to relax — really deep breaths from the diaphragm.  And then moves on.

Often, the urge to indulge passes.

Are you an emotional eater? Do you binge on certain foods? Or perhaps you eat without being mindful — consuming foods out of habit and routine.

Here are 4 simple steps that you can follow to change your own behaviour when urges hit:

  1. Try and identify what your trigger is. A trigger doesn’t have to be a negative emotion, it can often be something positive, such as treating yourself during the holidays or special occasions.
  2. Find other ways to deal with your feelings. Call a friend, play with your dog, go for a walk, dance, or explore the great outdoors.
  3. Take 10 and try some deep breathing. Most eating tends to be mindless. Check in with yourself instead. How are you feeling? What’s going on?
  4. Support yourself by committing to healthy lifestyle habits. That means daily movement and exercise, and ensuring you get enough sleep.

Eat slowly. Eat mindfully. Savour every bite.

And occasionally, eat whatever you want.

Emotional Eating


— Greg

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September 8, 2015 1 Comment

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