Sometimes, it isn’t hunger that causes us to reach for our favorite foods. Moods and emotions can also impact our relationship with food and they can interfere with our ability to stick with a healthy eating plan.
Sometimes, it isn’t hunger that causes us to reach for our favorite foods. Moods and emotions can also impact our relationship with food and they can interfere with our ability to stick with a healthy eating plan. Emotional eating can be triggered by stress, depression, loneliness, overwhelming job and family pressures, or by a traumatic life event. Even happiness can set it off. Here are six ways to get started.
Remove all the ‘sweet stuff’ from your kitchen
Out of sight, out of mind or at least, out of your mouth. One of the easiest ways you can break your habit of reaching for unhealthy foods when your emotional triggers kick in is to simply remove them from your house. If you don’t have a pint of ice cream in the freezer, you’re less likely to indulge in it. To help maintain a healthy lifestyle, plan a monthly cupboard, pantry, fridge, and freezer cleaning to throw away any unhealthy foods that may have crept back in. When you’re at the grocery, be sure to avoid adding chips, cookies, and other baked goods and junk foods to your shopping cart.
Keep a journal
Best way to keep off your emotion from eating fat foods is to write them down. If you know you’re not actually hungry, but a strong emotion is driving you toward eating, record your feelings in a journal along with the type and amount of food you ate (or what you were tempted to eat, if you refrained). This will help you make connections between your emotions and the foods that currently satisfy them.
What other way than forcing yourself into distraction. Instead of focusing on food, tap into other areas that bring balance to your life and make you happy. Do you like to paint? Dance? Take photos? Whenever you feel an emotional food trigger coming on, engross yourself in a fun, relaxing activity to help you take your mind off of your emotions and eating.
Cook healthy food
If you make the effort to prepare a wholesome meal or snack instead of grabbing fast food or junk food in a moment of weakness, you will have made a good start on controlling emotional eating. Healthy home-prepared meals and snacks made with fresh vegetables and fruits, lean protein, whole grains, and good unsaturated fats like olive oil and canola oil actually taste better and keep you feeling satisfied longer! In addition, the healthy meals and snacks you prepare yourself will provide you with many more vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients than you would get from fast food or junk food and they will keep you on track with your weight-loss goals.
Take stock of your emotions
Before you grab that doughnut, take a moment to think, “Is this going to make me feel better?” Sometimes, you just need to step back and have a moment of clarity. Or if this doesn’t work, consider bargaining with yourself: Tell yourself you will wait 20 minutes, and if you still hankering for that doughnut, allow yourself a small piece and toss the rest, or put some in the freezer and treat yourself to a bite another day. The next time you are tempted to solve your problems or celebrate with food, be sure to weigh the positive and negative consequences.
Working out alone is a great time to contemplate emotional issues and exercising and chatting with family or friends can be just the tonic you need. If a bad mood has kept you indoors all day, head outside for some fresh air. Not only will you feel revitalized but you will also curb your hunger and be less tempted to seek food therapy in the kitchen when you get home.