You're not alone if you're someone who often turns to food to cope with stress or other negative emotions. Unfortunately, emotional eating is a common problem that is tough to overcome.
There are steps you can take to gain control of your emotional eating. First, remember that every habit starts in your mind, and emotional eating is a habit you can manage if you're open to understanding your triggers.
Once you're aware of your triggers, you can start to work on them.
Here are some practical tips to help you control your emotional eating habit.
1. Acknowledge your problem. It’s important to acknowledge that you have a problem. You can only change issues when you’re aware of them.
* Be mindful when you reach for food, and consider whether you're physically hungry.
* Pay attention to the emotions that you're feeling in these moments. For example, ask yourself if you're hungry or just trying to satisfy an emotional need.
2. Identify your triggers. Once you know when and why you're emotionally eating, you can start to work on identifying your triggers. Motivation is anything that causes you to eat emotionally.
* When you're bored, you may find yourself snacking even though you're not hungry.
* Stress is a common trigger for emotional eating. So when you're feeling overwhelmed, you may turn to food for comfort.
* Anxiety can also lead to emotional eating. If you're feeling anxious, you may eat to calm yourself down.
* Depression can trigger emotional eating by causing you to lose interest in other activities. But, on the other hand, food may be the only thing that pleases you when feeling down
* Loneliness can lead to emotional eating because food can provide a temporary sense of comfort.
3. Find healthy ways to manage your stress. When stressed, you're more likely to turn to food for comfort, so it’s important to find coping mechanisms. There are several ways to identify healthy coping mechanisms.
* Exercise is a great way to relieve stress. It can also help you burn off any excess energy that may be causing you to consider comfort eating.
* When you breathe deeply, it slows down your heart rate and relaxes your muscles. This process forces your body to use oxygen more efficiently and can help lower blood pressure.
* Inhale slowly through your nose for five to eight seconds whenever you feel stressed, and exhale through your mouth for the same amount of time.
* Music can have a calming effect on the mind and body. It can help lower blood pressure and heart rate, and it can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
4. Challenge negative thinking. So if you constantly put yourself down or think negative thoughts, you're more likely to turn to food for comfort. Try to adapt your review so you don’t need to reach for food often. It is possible to retrain your brain to think more positive thoughts.
* Become aware of your negative thoughts. Pay attention to what you say to yourself when you're feeling down. Are you putting yourself down? Are you telling yourself that you're not good enough?
* Once you've identified negativity, challenge it. Then, for each negative review, try to develop a positive counterargument. For example, if you're thinking, "I'm such a loser," try to counter that thought with, "I'm doing the best I can."
* If you're continually criticizing yourself or having negative thoughts, you're more prone to seek solace in food.
5. Seek professional help. A therapist can help with emotional eating by allowing you to identify the underlying reasons for your emotional eating and then teaching you effective coping mechanisms for dealing with those emotions.
* You'll be less likely to eat in a bad mood when you master positive thinking. If you struggle to eliminate your emotional eating habit, talk to your healthcare provider and request a therapy referral.
Many people use food to cope with negative emotions such as stress, anxiety, sadness, boredom, anger, and loneliness. Identifying and dealing with the underlying emotions causing your emotional eating can help break the cycle of unhealthy eating habits.
Sure, it's going to take some effort and time, but you're worth it!
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