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Emotional Eating

Published on 23/03/2023

Have you ever found yourself eating a tub of ice cream in one go while crying? Or found yourself constantly snacking when there’s an important deadline coming up? These are examples of what is commonly known as Emotional Eating.

What is Emotional Eating?

Emotional eating doesn’t have one single definition and is highly subjective, as it is experienced differently from one person to another. Briefly, it’s the action when you eat not based on hunger, but rather on negative or positive emotions; like anxiety, anger, sadness, or even excitement and happiness. Boredom and stress, however, are two of the most common moods that trigger emotional eating.

How to recognize and manage Emotional Eating?

Recognizing emotional eating is tricky especially when trying to differentiate it from true “physiological” hunger which is when your body needs food for energy (fuel). Keeping a food-mood journal can really help you in tracking your emotions before and after eating as well as recognizing what is triggering your food choices. You could also ask yourselves the following: Who were you with? What did you eat? When did you eat? Where did you eat? Why did you eat?

How to Overcome Emotional Eating?

1- Self-Talk

Self-Talk is powerful, and if you use it wisely, it can be very beneficial in managing emotional eating. Identify the negative and self-destructive statements such as, “I cannot do this”, “I failed” or “I am not worthy”, and replace those statements with positive and goal-targeted comments such as, “This is hard, but it will be worth it” and “I will learn and make a better choice next time.”

2- Rate Your Hunger

Rate Your Hunger on a scale from 1-10 before reaching for food; with 10 representing extreme hunger. For ratings of 5 or less, opt for an activity instead, as emotions are more likely to drive your urge to eat. Food will not satisfy a person eating for emotional reasons, you can empower yourself with a convenience meal plan that effectively organizes your daily meals and helps you stay on track Therefore, it is important to discover other more productive ways to address the issues.

3- Find Alternatives

Find Alternatives to deal with positive and negative triggers in life. Go for a walk, read a book, take a bath, listen to music, or practice deep breathing. When you find something that works, incorporate it into your life or come back to it when you need it the most.

4- Aim for Progress and not Perfection

Prepare yourself emotionally for the ups and downs while working towards your goals, and accept them as part of the learning process. Once you’re mentally aware, you can recognize the triggers and avoid emotional eating. Lastly, remember it's normal that things could get out of control sometimes. Embrace the chance to get back on track and let resilience guide you toward success.