Are You an Emotional Eater?
Are you an emotional eater?
The first step in trying to control emotional eating is awareness. This is a matter of being cognizant or mindful of whether or not you are eating out of actual hunger or for another reason. Here are a few ideas:
If you schedule, as best as possible, meals and snacks at routine times each day, it should be relatively easy to know if you are experiencing emotional eating, because if you are eating 5-6 times per day and the meal/snacks are balanced and healthy, you shouldn’t feel the physical need to eat often in between.
Be sure to take time to eat your normal meals and keep them as well balanced as possible. Even though you may be stressed and feel tempted to eat, you may be able to control your impulses if you’ve had 3 regular meals throughout the day and are generally satisfied.
Keeping a simple food log or diary for a week or two may help point out the difference for you between emotional eating vs. more regular eating.
Look for patterns –e.g. I eat extensively on Friday nights if I’m home alone and have no plans; I snack at my desk all day when I have a deadline to meet at work; I “crave” salty snacks and eat them endlessly after I have had an argument with my spouse.
Come up with healthy substitute activities instead of eating in response to these stress-producing situations -e.g. Instead of eating if home alone on Friday nights, get involved in a favorite hobby, write a letter, or clean out a closet. Direct your attention away from food if you are not truly hungry.
Keep trying! Don’t beat yourself up for “falling off track!” We ALL get off track in our desires to eat healthy but the trick is to not stay ‘off track’. Remember it takes approximately 3,500 cals. to gain a lb. so if you eat an extra 500 cals, it will not sabotage your efforts. Enjoy what you’ve eaten, forgive yourself, and get back on track asap!