Are You an Emotional Eater?

How do you deal with stress? A common solution for many is to EAT. This is what we call “emotional eating” or using food to soothe negative emotions. Emotional eaters usually turn to food that are high in fat, sugar, and calories.

There are many of situations that can trigger emotional eating. Work, family problems, financial stress, and health problems are common culprits. Emotional eating can be done consciously or unconsciously, but regardless it is habit forming and can cause serious health problems. Emotional eating can damage any weight-loss plans. It also creates an unhealthy cycle of eating (bingeing) and then heavy guilt because of overeating or eating unhealthy foods. Emotional eating is just a temporary fix for the cause of stress – it’s never a solution!

How can you overcome emotional eating? Here are some tips:

· Keep a record. It is important to identify what you eat when you feel a certain way. Start a food log and record what you are eating, when you decide to eat, and how you feel before and after you eat. By keeping an accurate record, you will be able to identify patterns and triggers. The key is to look for what emotion(s) are causing you to eat.

· Think before you eat. Once you have been able to identify you emotional eating triggers, use this information for the next time you feel that emotion. Ask yourself, “Do I want to eat because I feel ______? Am I really hungry or just looking to relieve stress? Why do I want to eat _______?

· Find a new way to reduce stress. Since emotional eating is an unhealthy way to reduce stress, it is now time to find a healthy way. Exercise, relaxation breathing, journaling, talking to a close friend, taking a hot bath, getting a massage, or reading a book are all healthy and simple ways to manage stress.

· Purge your home of unhealthy foods. It is easy to binge on ice cream, pizza, and chips when it’s within your grasp. If you want to stop emotional eating, remove any food items that you are drawn to when you are stressed. Instead, fill your refrigerator and pantry with healthy snacks like nuts, fruit, veggies, and yogurt.

· Therapy. If you cannot seem to get a grip on your emotional eating, then it is time to seek help from a mental health care professional. They will be equipped to help you identify your triggers and give you proper coping techniques. They will also be able to help you cope with the root cause of your emotional eating.

The cycle of emotional eating can be broken. By gaining on control over emotional eating, you will feel in control and have a healthier life.

If you would like help in dealing with emotional eating and live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment.

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