There are many times people turn to food for comfort, relief or simply just to reward themselves. A lot of the times the foods they turn to are junk foods, sweet foods or generally unhealthy foods. People often find themselves eating a pint of ice cream if they are feeling low or ordering a burger if they’re feeling lonely or bored.
Emotional eating is a kind of coping mechanism that is used to fulfil emotional needs rather than the stomach. Unfortunately, emotional eating does not fix the emotional problems; instead it leaves people feeling guilty further.
Monitoring eating patterns
In order to address it, it’s important to identify which emotions make you feel out of control and compel you to turn towards food. It would be best to get a notebook and note down what you’re eating and what you’re feeling at the time of consuming that food. It will help you identify the link between that emotion and the food.
Plan an alternative option
Once you become aware that your emotions are driving your food cravings, you must try to list ways to deal with it. For something that is deep rooted, it might be best to visit a professional for advice. However, for short term problems such as a stressful day, or argument with a loved one; it would be better to choose alternative activities that can help to unwind and not make you feel out of control such as exercising or watching a series.
Doing a reality check
If you are genuinely hungry, any simple food shall normally suffice. Otherwise, cravings will usually be for unhealthy foods, sweets, etc. So, if beans and rice for example don’t really seem appealing, that means you might truly not be hungry. So doing a reality check can be helpful.
Developing good habits
A lot of the times, people that are emotionally eating, will be eating from a box, or a bag, sat in their bed, etc. It is advisable to share the food that you’re eating so that you ensure that you’re not eating and hiding it. And, another strategy is to be sat at the table, slowly eat the food and enjoy it.
Avoiding trigger foods
There are certain foods people eat when they are upset. They could be different foods for everyone, such as ice cream, a packet of crisps, sweets, etc. That does not mean that we can’t have these foods, but if they are easily accessible such as at home, it is easy to quickly turn to them. Therefore, if you feel like eating a bag of crisps every time you feel overwhelmed, it would be best to not buy it and keep it at home for easy access.
Getting adequate sleep
Lack of sleep is one of the leading and more obvious reasons for emotional eating. Being tired can lead to an increase in irritability and cravings for comfort food. That is why, it is vital to look after your sleep patterns and get adequate amount of sleep.
Emotional eating can be difficult and challenging to deal with and one can get easily discouraged. However, it is important to be realistic and set small goals so that they are easily achievable and the small successes keep you going.
Mahnoor Nadeem is a student of Masters in Clinical and Health Psychology in Lithuania and a Trainee Psychologist at Willingness. She enjoys working with children and adolescents and exploring topics such as health psychology, family therapy and sexual health.
Law, J. (2019). 8 things you need to know about emotional eating. Retrieved 26 November 2021, from https://www.besthealthmag.ca/list/8-things-you-need-to-know-about-emotional-eating/
HelpGuide. (2021). Emotional Eating – HelpGuide.org. Retrieved 26 November 2021, from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/diets/emotional-eating.htm