What is Emotional Eating, and How to Stop It?

Do you binge on certain foods when you’re stressed out or upset? If yes, you’re not alone. It’s called emotional eating, and everyone does it at times.

Emotional eating is when you eat in response to stress or any other emotion. Although it’s common, regular practice can lead to eating disorders and impact both psychological and physical health.

What causes emotional eating?

Work stress can cause eating disorder. (Photo via Pexels/energepic.com)
Work stress can cause eating disorder. (Photo via Pexels/energepic.com)

Anything can lead to a desire to eat, but some common reasons include:

  • work or personal life stress
  • health problems
  • social influence
  • boredom
  • childhood habits
  • feelings of emptiness
  • financial issues
  • emotional dysregulation
  • alexithymia

How to stop emotional eating?

While it can be difficult to change the habit, there are ways that can help you do so. Below are some effective tips to help you cope with emotional eating:

1) Keep a food diary

Keeping a food diary is an effective way to cope with emotional eating. Writing down everything you eat throughout the day along with the timing and location can help you track your eating patterns and habits.

A food diary can help you identify your food choices and also assist you in determining your fitness goals.

2) Don’t get caught up in calorie counting

When you’re trying to change a lifestyle habit, such as stress eating, don’t get caught up in calories, dieting, or menu planning, as these can distract you from achieving your changes. Studies have shown that getting too hung up on dieting or calorie counting can lead to more cravings.

Also read: Top 5 heart healthy foods to include in your diet.

3) Keep snacks and binge-eating items away

Stay away from snacks and unhealthy foods. (Photo via Pexels/Craig Adderley)
Stay away from snacks and unhealthy foods. (Photo via Pexels/Craig Adderley)

Make a strict grocery list, and follow it wholeheartedly. Remove all binge-eating items from your surroundings, and stick to a healthy diet. Although that might be difficult, it’s sure to stop your urge to snack on unhealthy items.

4) Move your body

A good sweaty workout session is sure to help overcome emotional eating. Exercise is an effective way to manage anxiety and reduce stress hormones in the body. Moreover, it releases endorphins and gives your mood an energy boost while managing underlying triggers for emotional eating.

5) Meditation can help

When the urge for emotional eating triggers you, start meditating, and try to distract your mind. Studies show that meditation can help fight the urge that triggers eating disorders and ease stress too. Just focus on your breathing, and relax your mind.

6) Communicate with your loved ones or therapist

Communication can ease stress and anxiety. (Photo via Pexels/Alex Green)
Communication can ease stress and anxiety. (Photo via Pexels/Alex Green)

Don’t shy away from discussing your eating habits with your loved ones or a therapist.

They may be able to help you identify what’s exactly causing the stress and also help you overcome it. Health professionals may be able to provide therapy and give you life lessons on how to cope with anxiety and stress.

Food may feel like the best way to overcome your emotions, but remember that it can become an eating disorder if not stopped at the right time. Practice meditation; work out regularly, and seek professional help if you’re unable to cope with your habits.

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