If you are struggling with emotional eating, you’re not alone.
I still catch myself doing it – just the other day I sat down in front of my computer and opened up a bag of Terra chips and started shoveling them in. I stopped myself before I ate the entire bag because I became aware of what I was doing. Typically, when we eat due to emotions, it’s common to “check-out” and just not be present.
I stopped and asked myself “Am I really hungry?” And the answer was no- I realized that I was bored. So I put the chips away and went for a walk.
I have been practicing being mindful about my food choices for quite some time, so I was able to quickly use the tools in my tool box to get back on track.
If you want some tools in your toolbox, here are some helpful hints that you can practice to end emotional eating.
#1 – Don’t keep junk in the house.
I am sure you have heard this one before, and that is because it works. If it’s not in the house, you won’t be tempted. I know- your kids, your partner, your dog- won’t be happy with you for depriving them. But seriously, it won’t kill them to eat healthier.
When there is tempting junk food in the house, emotional eating becomes too easy. Case in point, you come home after an awful day at work and the whole ride home all you can think about is drowning your sorrows in the pint of Ben & Jerry’s that you know is in the freezer. The food ends up serving as a trigger- so just get rid of it.
#2 – Find a healthier alternative.
Instead of focusing on grabbing ice cream when you get home, you need to find a substitute. Instead of reaching for food when you’re stressed, take the dog out for a walk or talk about how stressful your day was with your loving partner or best friend.
When you create new behaviors, you actually create new neural pathways- which means that you create new habits. So long Ben & Jerry, hello workout gear!!
#3 – Restock your kitchen.
It’s much easier to grab for healthy food when you are hungry if it’s on hand and in sight. Research shows that people who leave healthy foods in plain sight make better food choices. Some ways that you can implement this for yourself: A bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen counter. Cut up veggies and keep them handy with some hummus at eye level in the fridge. If coffee is a trigger for an unhealthy muffin or donut, see if you can substitute your coffee for a green smoothie.
#4 – Take a seat.
If you are going to eat, you must sit your arse down at the kitchen table. When you plate your food, whether it is a meal or a snack, you are able to eat more mindfully. Think about the last time you sat in front of the TV or computer with food. Do you actually remember eating the food? How about feeling satisfied?
When you sit down and actually pay attention to what you are eating and how much you are eating, the tendency is to eat less because you are able to notice those signals that get sent from your stomach to your brain telling you that you are “full” — and when you are in touch with your body’s signals, you naturally stop yourself from overeating.
#5 – Be kind to yourself.
Find other things to nourish yourself. I love to light scented candles at dinner, it helps set a nice relaxing mood! Maybe you like scented soaps or fresh flowers. A soft blanket to curl up while you sip your tea after your meal. I know you might feel a sense of control when you eat what you want and be damned with everyone else, but afterwards, the guilt and emotions surrounding the incident make you beat yourself up incessantly. Take the opportunity that you have to be kind to yourself and surround yourself with things that make you feel good.