Do you ever eat to make yourself better – especially when you feel stressed or unhappy? Emotional eating is pretty common, and it’s safe to say that most of us have tapped into the comforting effects of food from time to time. But if emotional eating is the only way to cope with stress and negative emotions, it can become an unhealthy pattern that’s hard to break. But there are gentle ways to overcome this habit.
Research shows that some foods can improve our mood and lower stress. So, it makes perfect sense that emotional eating happens. However, what happens when you are under chronic stress and always turn to food for comfort?
You basically train the survival part of your brain to want food when stress hits. But we know it doesn’t end there. Emotional eating might be a short-term fix. But it can lead to unwanted weight gain, eating junk food, and trapping you in a cycle of guilt, self-disappointment and regret.
So, here are four gentle ways to overcome emotional eating:
Get rid of the junk food
When stressed, the brain loves the fat, salt and sugar in junk food. So, don’t keep it in the house. Instead, fill your fridge with tasty fruits and vegetables that you can enjoy if you decide to eat.
Breath deep and relax
When you’re feeling stressed, it’s easy to just react and reach for food. Instead, see if you can notice when stress strikes. When it comes, instead fo reacting, see if you can breath deeply. This will help calm you down and center you, as well as to guide your next decision.
Up until now, emotional eating was the simplest and most logical step for you to take to combat stress and negative emotion. But now that you know to breath, relax and center yourself, you have more options.
So, before you eat anything, ask yourself if you really want and need it. What’s more, do you think you’ll feel ashamed and guilty once you eat it? The whole point of emotional eating is to make you feel better. But will your choice make you feel worse? When you’re intentional, you have an answer to these questions.
Make emotional eating just one option
You don’t have to cut out food from your life completely. That would be cruel, wouldn’t it? Emotional eating might have been your go-to fix, but it doesn’t have to be the only thing you rely on.
What other activities help to calm you down, and make you feel better, safe and relaxed? Come up with a list and keep it on your fridge or in your phone to help you brainstorm when stress hits.