End Emotional Eating for Weight Loss
Sometimes when we’re bored, angry, lonely or stressed, we can find ourselves munching mindlessly in an effort to cope with our emotions. This habit is called emotional eating, and it’s something we all experience to some extent. Learning how to overcome this problematic eating habit can help you maintain a healthy weight level.
Emotional eating is problematic because it generally leads to overeating. It also is a habit that is tough to break. Though so-called “comfort foods” may help us feel better momentarily, the feeling doesn’t last.
The urge to eat emotionally, or emotional hunger, is characterized by:
- Sudden onset. True hunger happens gradually, but emotional hunger can hit us suddenly and demand instant gratification.
- Specific cravings. Emotional hunger typically prompts a desire for some particular comfort food.
- Insatiability. Emotional hunger isn’t satisfied when your belly is full and can make you eat far past the point of fullness.
Any emotion from joy to sadness can cause emotional hunger. Sometimes, we overeat when celebrating a happy occasion. Other times, we seek comfort and happiness from food during a lonely, uneventful night at home. Regardless of when and where you experience emotional hunger, you can prevent it from turning into emotional eating by diverting your attention to an alternative activity.
The best way to overcome a habit of emotional eating is to find alternative ways to manage stress. Here are a few simple strategies that may help you with this process:
- Feeling lonely or sad? Try calling a friend or relative for a quick chat. Talking to someone else about the problems you’re experiencing or simply having a friendly conversation can quickly help you feel better.
- Feeling anxious or stressed? Try taking a few deep breaths and doing something that relaxes you, like reading a book or listening to calming music.
- Feeling bored? Try playing a game, watching a movie, engaging in one of your hobbies or even doing some work around the house.
- Feeling angry or frustrated? Try exercising to let out some aggression.
Try developing a list of alternative activities you can fall back on whenever you experience one of these emotions. This way, you’ll always have a game plan when you feel the urge to eat for comfort.