Manage Emotional Eating
Emotional eating or boredom eating happens when one is trying to replace a negative emotion or uncertainty with something tangible, in this case, food items. Emotional eating happens when one is trying to fill a void or emptiness within them for that moment. Something they can have control over.
Emotional eating is not the same as physical hunger.
Emotional hunger happens in the moment, cravings etc., It’s impulsive. The craving is of a particular kind of food – Chips, cheesy stuff, chocolates etc., It’s not just hunger, it’s the need for instant gratification.
Emotional hunger is triggered at a specific time – after an emotional episode (argument/bad news etc.,) due to anxiety/uncertainty, after completing a taxing task. An impulse to do something productive.
Emotional eating is a behaviour that can come up often. Instead of stopping it, one can work on trying to manage it.
Remove the Guilt – Eat if it makes you happy but don’t feel guilty about it. Guilt is what adds to more emotional eating. Sometimes a craving is just a craving.
Small Quantities – If you feel like eating something, instead of stopping it, try to eat in small quantities. If you feel like eating chocolate, instead of the full bar, take two pieces. Instead of indulging in an entire bag of chips, remove it in a bowl and then enjoy.
Prepare for the craving – If you’re aware of the timings (Late night, difficult conversations etc.,) prepare something that can be healthy and can fill your craving. If you have craving for an ice-cream add some granola to it. Use it in a smoothie etc., If you feel craving for a pizza – use toppings that can be a replacement for cheese, add more spices, add more veggies etc., If chocolate is your thing try eating more dark chocolate or cacao which has less sugar. Meal-prep it so you know what you may eat when you’re triggered.
Add more drinks – Lack of water intake is misunderstood as hunger. So, when you feel hungry or feel a craving. Drink something – Smoothie, water, juice, tea, herbal tea, milkshake etc.,
Inventory – Take a look at your pantry and remove the items that could be unhealthy for you. Don’t stock it. If you need to stock it for whatever reason, try to put it in some containers that cannot be easily accessed. Or would be too much work to access. Put it behind heavy boxes etc., If you can’t see it, chances are you may not reach for it.
Face your feelings – Talk about what is really happening with a friend or partner or someone you trust. Acknowledge your feeling and name it. Naming the feeling will help you stay in control of your craving. Craving is a distraction, working on how you actually feel will help you curb your craving. Is it anger? Disappointment? Worry?
Accountability – Keep track of your craving intake. What and how much you consume on a daily/weekly/occasional basis. Noting it down will help you become aware of the type of food you usually want and the quantity.
Meditation and healthy habits – Include mediation and a healthy diet in your everyday life. For your emotional and physical balanced well-being. Move your body for better circulation and balancing high energy levels that sometimes release pleasure chemicals which can help manage your craving.
Unsubscribe – Unsubscribe to food channels, mute food profiles or influencers (at least for a while)
If you’re unable to manage this way, then you may need to hire a counsellor and/or nutritionist for your well-being based on your needs. What is important to note that you cannot really stop a craving or stop emotional eating. It can trigger anytime. What you can do is manage it pragmatically. Be kind and compassionate with yourself instead of judging yourself. Listen to what your body wants and not the other way round. Give yourself the time to understand the feelings and emotions instead of forcing yourself.
Emotional eating cannot be managed only emotionally or mentally or physical it needs to be managed with a good balance of physical, emotional and mental. Managing emotional eating is never easy and requires a lot of work and mindfulness but if done compassionately, it easily work and help.
(This article was written for DTNext - https://www.dtnext.in/News/City/2021/06/13035906/1300612/Face-your-feelings-remove-guilt-to-manage-emotional-.vpf)