Food is a natural way for humans to cope with stressful situations. Some people succumb to it occasionally, while others find themselves resorting to it often. People may munch on a bag of chips or a bar of chocolate when dealing with a stressful day. But how do you figure out if you’re an emotional eater? Here are the characteristics of emotional eating.
People who suffer from emotional eating may feel:
- Can’t control the craving of eating certain foods
- An urge to eat when they are experiencing strong emotions
- The constant need to eat even when not physically hungry
Causes of emotional eating
Almost anything can evoke a desire to eat. External causes of emotional eating include:
- Work stress
- Financial worries
- Health issues
- Relationship struggles
- People who adhere to restrictive diets or have a history of dieting are more likely to overeat emotionally.
Tips on how to prevent emotional eating
- Keep a food diary.
- Keep a check on your eating habits. You may notice patterns that reveal the relationship between mood and food over time.
- Tame your stress.
- Try a stress-reduction method like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing if you believe that stress is a factor in your emotional eating.
- Have a hunger reality check
If you don’t have a strong support system, emotional eating is more likely to become your form of coping. Count on your loved ones and friends, or think about joining a support group.
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Keep boredom at bay
Distract yourself and choose a healthy alternative to nibbling when you’re not hungry. Try going for a stroll, watching a movie, playing with your cat, listening to music, reading, browsing the internet, or calling a friend.
Don’t starve yourself
When trying to lose weight, you may restrict calories excessively, eat the same foods repeatedly, and avoid treats. This may simply increase your food cravings, particularly in response to emotions. To help curb cravings, eat satisfying amounts of healthier foods, enjoy an occasional treat, and get plenty of variety.
If you get hungry in between meals, reach for a healthy snack like fresh fruit, vegetables with low-fat dip, nuts, or unbuttered popcorn. Alternatively, experiment with lower-calorie versions of your favourite foods to see if they satisfy your craving.
Learn from past experiences
If you indulge in emotional eating, be kind to yourself and try again the next day. Make an effort to draw lessons from past experiences and develop a strategy for avoiding them in the future. Give yourself credit for making improvements to your eating habits, which will improve your health by concentrating on the good changes you are making.
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