Emotional Eating – Ways To Overcome It
Let’s chat about emotional eating, and how to overcome it.
First off, do not beat yourself up if you emotionally eat. Be kind to yourself, you’re human, it happens, we’ve all done it (including myself). Practicing self-love and compassion can go a long way.
So, what exactly is emotional eating (or stress eating)? It’s when we use food to make ourselves feel better, eating to satisfy emotional needs (sadness, happiness, loneliness, beardom), rather than to satisfy physical hunger.
Unfortunately, emotional hunger can’t be filled with food. It may make you feel good in the moment because you’ll get a release of dopamine (our main pleasure hormone) after eating a food you enjoy, however the feeling that triggered the eating is still there.
You want to find other ways to deal with your emotions, and also learn how to eat mindfully instead of mindlessly.
Here are a few ways to help overcome emotional eating:
- Make sure you have a good quality protein and fat source with every main meal, this is essential to help balance blood sugar levels, switch off hunger hormones and reduce the desire to eat.
- Give up dieting, restriction, and deprivation. Restricting your food intake puts your body into “starvation” mode. Binges and emotional eating often begins as a result of rebelling against starvation. Remember your body deserves respect. Become a conscious eater, and give yourself PERMISSION to eat your favourite foods, with joy, in moderation.
- Instead of rushing to the fridge or pantry, what else can you do to fill that emotional gap when feeling stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, sad? Consider phoning a friend or family member to talk about how you’re feeling, try journaling, consider working with a counsellor or emotional release therapist. Finding another way to express and deal with your emotions can be life-transforming.
- When you eat, make a deal out of it, sit down, away from technology and distraction and be present with the food. Enjoy the moment of eating. Often with emotional eating it happens in front of the telly, or while watching something on your laptop. Never eat when standing, on the phone, in front of the TV, or in front of the fridge. It’s not being conscious and present. Always put your food on a plate. Changing habits are key.
- Tune into your appetite. And eat when you are hungry! Ask yourself “Am I hungry?”. Imagine what the taste of food would be like, and imagine how you would feel afterwards, will it energize you and make you feel good? If not, reconsider if you really want it.
Hi I’m Natalie, a Registered Clinical Nutritionist, health influencer, blog writer & recipe creator. My own health complications prompted me to make positive diet & lifestyle changes, revitalize my health leading to a career change from the corporate world to nutritional medicine. I believe in a wholefoods approach to good health, focusing on simple strategies for modern, busy people.