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Are you an emotional eater?

Posted 6/5/2019

After a bad breakup with your boyfriend, you find yourself sitting at home on the couch with a tub of your favorite ice cream. Perhaps you had a particularly stressful day at work and find yourself running through a fast food drive through. Or maybe you are just bored so you eat whatever is closest to you and when that is done, you eat some more.


Sound familiar? Emotional eating is very common amongst a lot of people, including the author of this blog. For those of us who are emotional eaters, we tend to use food to soothe our negative emotions; whether that is sadness, stress, anxiety, boredom, loneliness, or even eating since you think you are hungry, but you are actually thirsty. Each person is different as to the types of food that they are drawn to, whether that is a bag of Doritos or a tub of chocolate ice cream. We crave something that our bodies and our brains “think” we need in order to make us feel better. Unfortunately at the end of that eating session we will either feel incredibly guilty (especially if you are trying to watch what you eat), or you will feel a temporary lift in your mood only to crash a short time later. This can also intensify or lengthen your emotional eating episode.


So what can you do? How can you break the emotional eating cycle?

If you are eating out of sadness, as an example, perhaps call a friend to talk or meet up to go for a long walk. Being outside in the fresh air can do wonders for our mental state. If you can do something you truly enjoy, even though your brain will probably try and convince you that the couch and ice cream are a wonderful idea, you can actually work past that craving. Doing something you enjoy will switch your focus into something positive and away from your negative emotions.

The same method can really be applied to any of the negative emotions. If you are bored, look for an activity that gets you moving. This will keep you off of the couch, and in turn away from the food you will find yourself eating that you may not want to. Go for a bike ride, or a hike, or hit the gym. Exercise is such a powerful tool for our health and mental well-being.

As mentioned earlier, your body could be telling you that you are hungry when you are actually thirsty. Instead of running to the fridge or cupboard and looking for food, have a glass or 2 of water and wait. If you are thirsty you may just find your cravings alleviate when you drink something. The water will also make you feel fuller so if you do eat, your portion won’t be as much.

Finally, if you have a craving for something sweet, wait for 5 minutes before you eat. Sometimes just taking that pause is actually enough for that temptation to subside. On the flip side of this however, if you try and tell yourself “I am not allowed to have that chocolate bar” you will find yourself craving it MORE! So if you have waited and the craving is there, try and limit your portion size. That one piece of chocolate may be enough to satisfy your sweet tooth.