There are many differences between physical hunger and emotional hunger, but some of us have a hard time distinguishing the two when we're stressed, depressed, bored and anxious. Eating food is often seen as a comforting activity that can act as an outlet to suppressed feelings and emotions, but can also be negative to your physical and emotional health. Emotional eating can strike when you’ve hit a weak point emotionally, but can be controlled by taking certain precautions. Ladies, it’s time to put down that cookie. Here are seven ways to stop stress eating.
1. Pinpoint your triggers. Take time to make note of the factors that contribute towards your emotional eating. Some common causes include stress, uncomfortable emotions (such as anger, fear, sadness, anxiety and shame), boredom or emptiness, childhood habits, and social influences. Click here to read about seven signs that show that you are eating your emotions.
2. Find other ways to feed your feelings. Aside from understanding your triggers, finding alternatives to food that you can turn to for emotional fulfillment is important. (via Help Guide)
- If you're depressed or lonely, call a friend or family member who can give you the support and affection you are subconsciously seeking. Play with your pet or go through old photos/mementos that remind you of happy memories.
- If you are anxious, turn to exercise. Spend your energy on physical activity by working out, going for a walk, or even singing your favorite song.
- If you are exhausted, make yourself a hot cup of tea, take a bath, or light some aromatic candles. Surrounding yourself by peaceful things will help to distract you from thinking about eating.
- If you are bored, get busy! Pick up on an old hobby or start a new one, explore the outdoors, read a good book — anything that will keep you away from the pantry and into an activity that requires your attention.
3. Know the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger. Physical hunger happens gradually and typically around the time that you would normally eat. This kind of hunger is open to many food options and stops when you're full. Emotional hunger happens suddenly and feels like it needs to be satisfied immediately. It craves comfort foods and isn't satisfied with a full stomach. (via Help Guide)
4. When you're hungry, eat mindfully. Eat in a calm environment that is free of distractions (i.e., TV, newspapers, books, etc.) Eat what your body wants and until you feel satisfied. (via US News)
5. Take five. Emotional eating can be automatic and mindless. Before you know it, you’re rummaging through your fridge with a tub of ice cream in your hand. If you can take a moment and reflect on what you’re doing before you polish off half a pint of ice cream, you can give yourself an opportunity to make a different decision. Give yourself five minutes to think about what you want versus what your body needs. (via Help Guide)
6. Learn to accept your feelings. Emotional eating often comes from feeling powerless over your emotions, and when you don’t feel like you can deal with them yourself, you avoid them with food. Allowing yourself to feel emotions can be uncomfortable, but the truth is, when we don’t obsess over or suppress our emotions, painful and difficult feelings will subside faster. The key here is to learn how to be mindful and stay connected with moment-to-emotional experiences. (via Help Guide)
7. Support yourself with healthy lifestyle tips. Make daily exercise a priority, give yourself permission to take at least 30 minutes a day to relax, decompress and unwind, and always make time to spend time with positive people who enhance your life and make you feel good. Also, know what treatments work best for you and your body — you'll feel better in no time!