When it comes to bad habits this one is close to the top. But just like most of the problems, it can be resolved as well. Today we bring you 10 tips on how to stop emotional eating.
1. Recognize the problem
Even though this might seem like an obvious suggestion, you won’t make any real progress until you recognize your eating patterns. Firstly, you have to learn to separate real hunger from the emotional need for food. The best way to do this is to analyze the situation every time you reach for a snack or some other food.
Stop and think about how you feel. If you feel negative emotions and you’re not hungry, keep your discipline, take a deep breath and go and do something that will get your mind off food. By doing this every time you feel the need for food, you’ll eventually train yourself to eat only when you are really hungry.
2. Visualize a hunger scale
If you mixed your emotions and food for a very long time, it can be hard to recognize real hunger and that can become a problem itself. Here is another simple and very effective way to fight off mindless eating. All you have to do is visualize a hunger scale which will help you stay on track when it comes to hunger.
So, for example, if the scale goes from one to ten, one being satiated and ten starving, do not eat unless you reach at least seven or eight on your hunger scale. If you do this every time you feel hungry, you’ll be able to recognize “emotional hunger” better, and with the time you’ll be able to stop emotional eating altogether.
3. Learn how to control your emotions
Nowadays every person has its extensive list of problems, and that is completely normal considering the hectic world we all live in. Life issues are the core of emotional eating and it’s best to recognize that early on. Even though we might not be able to discard those problems, we can do something to lessen the negative effects they have on us.
Different stress reliefs can help you control your emotions like meditation, exercise, or a simple walk, whatever works for you. The key here is to go into stress management mode and not to worry about things we can’t change. If you manage to accomplish this you’ll not only learn how to stop emotional eating but improve quality of life altogether.
4. Get rid of trigger foods
Did you ever reach for a bag of chips in a stressful situation? All you have to do is get rid of the unhealthy foods like chocolate chip cookies, chips, or whatever else you go for when you’re stressed. So, eliminate the sweets and snacks, and if other family members have a problem with that, let them keep that kind of food in their room or their stash.
To prevent the temptation altogether, there is one more thing you can do. Do not go to the store when you are stressed and hungry. Most of us experienced this, and when you’re hungry, you’re bound to buy a lot of things that are not necessary or healthy.
5. Use a timer
Thanks to modern technology, every smartphone has a timer, so why not make good use of it. Even though this might sound like an overly simple solution, it is effective nonetheless. If you can’t keep your hands off food, make sure that you’re at least disciplined enough to follow the timer. All you have to do is follow your simple schedule and not break it at any cost.
So, if you eat breakfast at eight in the morning, use the timer to mark the lunchtime six hours later, and not sooner. Do the same thing for dinner, and as long as you follow this simple plan of healthy eating you’re set. In-between snack is OK, but only in the form of fruit or salad.
6. Portion control
Even if you follow all of our advice, you won’t make any progress unless you control the portions. For example, even if you have a strict schedule that you stick to, it will make no difference if you eat large quantities of food for your next meal. That is exactly why portion control is a must. There are two main things you have to follow to create a meal that will suit your needs, or a healthy snack.
The first thing you have to pay attention to is the amount of fats and oils you use when you’re cooking. The second thing you have to learn is how to serve the adequate size of a certain dish. Since this can be hard, it would be best to use portion control dishware. Following this philosophy, you can stop emotional eating and you can even treat yourself to a small portion of ice cream from time to time.
7. Don’t eat when others are eating
Don’t get us wrong, if it’s time for your next meal and you’re in the company of your friends and family, it is perfectly fine to eat with them, as long as you don’t overeat. However, if you already ate, or if you’re at a fast-food restaurant, it would be better if you stay clear. It is one thing that requires a lot of discipline.
We’ve all been in that situation where one of our friends is eating something delicious and it simply draws us in, even though we ate earlier. However, you have to stay strong and disciplined in these situations if you want to get your eating habits under control. It is one of the steps that’s hard but makes a world of difference.
Exercise is something that will do wonders for you if you’re an emotional eater. Besides the fact that it burns calories, it also suppresses the appetite. However, keep in mind that exercise is only a temporary appetite suppressor, but nonetheless, it will keep your emotions in check. Exercise will also make you feel much better about yourself and it will get you on the right track when it comes to weight loss.
It is one of the things that are essential if you’re not physically active. Start slowly by walking a couple of miles then gradually intensify your workout by fast walking and jogging, and by bodyweight exercises like squats, sit-ups, push-ups, etc. If you want to learn how to stop emotional eating and get on the right track health-wise, exercise is the way to go.
9. Keep food journal
It might seem like unusual advice, but it is a very useful one. One study concluded that women who keep track of their daily food intake lose twice as much weight compared to women that don’t. The idea behind this is to keep a record of everything you eat so you can analyze it later, and hopefully recognize the potential culprits.
Besides that, it’s not a bad idea to count calories as well, at least at the beginning, just to get the general idea of how much you consume daily. With a food diary like this, you’ll easily see exactly at what time you ate something just because of the stress. A food journal can be a great ally when it comes to emotional eating, and you should try it out.
10. Live a balanced life
When it comes to emotional eating there is one habitual pattern that most people have in common and it’s too much work. A regular day at work tends to e stress out most people, and that is when they reach for comfort foods. A balanced life means that you have to make yourself happy through the things you love to do.
For example, go out with your friends, go for a massage, play with your kids, find a hobby, do something that will occupy you physically and mentally. Sleep, work, and free time should be divided into equal parts. Find balance in life and you’ll be able to stop emotional eating. Not only that, you’ll be a happier person overall.