I‘m no psychiatrist, but I am a self-rehabilitated emotional eater.
Emotional eating is a complex topic and now experts, like Dr. David Kessler, are just starting to get to the root of it. He says that people can literally become addicted to certain foods, that their brains are being hijacked by fast food because of its high-fat, high-salt and high-fat content, things that we are biologically programmed to crave.
Certainly there are other factors to consider, since emotional eating can be a way to cope or sooth some emotional trauma and if that applies to you, seeking help from a professional is the best route. But one thing is certain, emotional eating isn’t good for your body and you don’t feel good when you catch yourself doing it.
If it’s a matter of your mind, I definitely used “fire to fight fire” getting rid of the urge to eat when I didn’t feel happy or just overeat to comfort myself. Making your mind up that you do have a choice when it comes to emotional eating is the first step. So here are some basics that helped me to overcome my emotional eating.
Trigger foods, you know those foods you claim are your ultimate weakness, are like kryptonite for emotional eaters. Start by identifying your trigger food or foods, in fact write it all down, the food items and why you love them so much. Give yourself just a week or two vacation from that food, completely, and see what happens. Out of sight out of mind, and you might even discover that you really don’t need them as much as you think you do and it really isn’t that great.
“Just one bite” Never Works
Just like trigger foods, having just one bite when you’re not hungry can trigger emotional eating, or eating when you’re not hungry. Take a moment and take a deep breath, a “full belly” breath and check in with your stomach and ask yourself if you’re really hungry. Sometimes just taking a few seconds to think can break the intensity of the urge.
Soothing yourself is a good thing, as long as you find a healthy way to do it. If you find you are eating often to sooth yourself, sit down and write out ten relaxing or fun activities that have nothing to do with food. Keep that list on your fridge or at your desk anytime you reach for food to sooth. At a loss for ideas, try these:
- Flipping through photos of your pet or your favorite person
- Putting on your favorite song
- Taking a 5 minute walk and getting a breath of fresh air
- Make plans to rent your favorite movie or make plans to see a friend tonight
- Take a hot bath with your favorite bath salts
What’s Your Opinion?
With such a complex and controversial topic, everyone seems to have their own opinion — shaped maybe even by actual experience. For sure, it’s been a hot topic among my friends… so do share yours in the comment section below. Have you dealt with emotional eating? If yes, what’s been your best piece of advice?