Emotional eating is something many of us can relate to. Eating is something we all have to deal with, and for some of us our relationship with food can get muddied. This could be because of the way we were brought up around food, or over time we have simply associated certain feelings with hunger.
Overcoming emotional eating can be difficult – unlike an alcohol or drug addiction, food is an essential part of our lives. If you struggle with emotional eating, the following tips may be able to help:
When you are trying to resist temptation, imagine you have a remote control for your life. Picture yourself with your snack of choice in your hand, and run through the process mentally in your head. Imagine what it would feel like to eat it and the few seconds of gratification you would get. Then fast-forward five minutes and think about how you would feel then. Will you feel guilty and beat yourself up about it?
Now picture the same scenario, but instead of eating the food, you resist temptation and maybe eat something healthy instead. Fast-forward five minutes again – how do you feel? Chances are you will be feeling proud, strong and positive.
Keeping both scenarios in mind, un-pause and make your decision, remembering that you are in control of your thoughts and actions.
Check in with hunger
Emotional eating doesn’t usually take place when we’re hungry, it usually happens when we’re going through an emotion like loneliness, depression or boredom. Next time you crave something unhealthy, check in with your body – are you really hungry? Have a glass of water and check back in, if your stomach feels empty and is still rumbling, you are probably hungry so don’t deny yourself, just think about making a healthier choice.
Recognising your unhealthy cravings for what they are is really helpful. They are thoughts we create ourselves and so they can be demolished just as quickly. One technique many swear by is distraction. Remove yourself from the situation and do something else. Call your friend, walk the dog, play a game – anything that will stop you thinking about your craving.
Chances are after five minutes the craving will pass. You could also try some deep breathing and relaxation techniques here.