4 Steps to help overcome Emotional Overeating

Has this pandemic become the battle of the bulge? Do you have love / hate relationship with the scale? Are you gaining weight that seems to stay around forever? The cause might be emotional overeating.

I am guilty of this, now matter what the emotion stress, depressed, anger and even when happy food is my comfort. When happy it’s disguised as a celebration, I’ve earned the right to eat whatever I want. However, I have noticed that different emotions have me seeking out different comfort foods. When I am stressed or angry, I tend to want sweet comforts. When I am sad its junk food like chips or take out. When happy its all the above.

What is emotional overeating?

Emotional overeating is a complex topic, but to simplify you are eating your feelings!

As defined by the Mayo Clinic Emotional Eating is eating to suppress or soothe negative emotions, such as stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness and loneliness. Major life events or, more commonly, the hassles of daily life can trigger negative emotions that lead to emotional eating and disrupt your weight-loss efforts.

Food is a source of comfort for us emotional eaters. Sadly, the comfort doesn’t last it’s a temporary rush of feel good emotions then the guilt of overeating kicks in and then you are berating yourself for sabotaging your diet and weight-loss goals.

Try these easy steps to help with your emotional overeating.

  1. Know your triggers. When you feel the need to eat your feelings it is usually triggered by an event, thought, or feeling.

If you are not yet mindful of your triggers start a journal. Start by writing out your feelings. Are you stressed, bored, sad or is this real hunger that you are feeling?

If you can figure out your triggers, then it will be easier to take control of them.

My trigger is work stress and now due to ‘The Vid’ and being in lockdown I am seeking comfort in food much more then normal. Your triggers may be the same or it could be family and relationship issues.

2. Eat when you’re hungry. Learn to listen to your body and pay attention to real hunger pangs. Make sure to also keep hydrated so an you don’t confuse being thirsty with being hungry.

3. Make alternative plans. For example, if you know that you are going to have a stressful day at work, and this causes you to stress eat then plan and try to prevent it. Try substituting a more positive action that also brings you comfort or reduces your stress like looking at dog videos on Instagram. Nothing better than watching a cubby French bulldog getting stuck in a box. Maybe dog videos aren’t your thing, but you get the idea.

– Take a long walk or workout after work to get rid of stress.
– Instead of running to grab that bags chips after an argument, watch your favourite sitcom to get you in a happier mood. Or get out of your comfort zone and call a friend instead of texting.

The plan is to find other ways to deal with your stress and negative emotions.

4) Find your tribe.  Surround yourself with people that your are comfortable with, that support and lift up. Create a support group to help each other with your fitness and health goals.

Your are not alone, many of us eat our feelings and most of the time without realizing it. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and we can change. Take small steps to create your new habits and reach out when you need help.

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