Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Say No To Emotional Eating

People associate food with emotions, experiences and socializing. Although such connections are usually normal and acceptable, they can sometimes promote poor eating habits. If all you want to do is chow down on a plate of fries when you are feeling a bit down, you are an emotional eater. And, to overcome emotional eating, it is important to make a strong commitment to your mental and physical health says Geetu Amarnani, Mumbai Based Nutritionist. Read on in detail how you can stop the snack attack.

Identity Hunger: Is it physical or emotional hunger

Emotional hunger can develop suddenly, or it can be an accumulation of your day: snubbed by a colleague, betrayed by a friend, leaving your reluctant child at daycare, losing a business contract. At the end of the day all you want to do is mindlessly eat a bag of chips, tub of ice cream or crates of take-out Chinese food – and stare at the T.V.

• Emotional eaters don’t listen to their bodies. To stop emotional eating, you must tune in to the cues.

• Emotional hunger isn’t related to time. That is, you can feel emotionally hungry in the middle of the night, at three in the afternoon, or during the Late Show. Emotional eaters may mindlessly eat more at non-mealtimes than at mealtimes.

• Emotional hunger – and mindless snacking – often leads to feelings of guilt and shame. You could stop emotional eating if you deal with those feelings.

• Emotional eaters don’t feel content or pleasantly satisfied after they eat. They feel sick.

Mindless snackers still feel empty after they’ve eaten. To stop emotional eating, you must learn to satisfy your emotional hunger other ways.

Check Your Cravings: Is it to eat something or to talk to someone?
When you’re struggling with a craving or feel driven to eat mindlessly, stop for a moment. How are you feeling? May be you are sad, overwhelmed, angry, hurt, rejected, hopeless, scared! To stop emotional eating, find ways to express your feelings instead of eating. Call a friend, go for a walk, write, talk to a therapist, do yoga, weed the garden, or get involved anyway. This will help you turn away from mindlessly eating food to feeling your true feelings.

8 Tips to Mind Your Emotional Eating

1. Look for connections between the events in your day and your cravings for food. Identify the triggers that push you over the line and make you want to eat mindlessly (eg, fights with your partner or child).
2. Deal with your triggers. If you can’t cut them from your life entirely, find better ways to cope with your feelings. Eating mindlessly makes things worse.
3. Eat slowly and listen to your body for clues that you are physically satisfied.
4. Don’t deprive yourself of foods you love – just don’t overdo it.
5. Don’t eat in bed or on the sofa or in front of T.V. Eat at the dining table rather.
6. Treat your body with respect: nourish it, move it around, listen to it, and pamper it. Tune in to your body to stop emotional eating.
7. Make your pantry a safe haven. Keeping only a limited amount of healthy snack food in your house is the fastest, easiest way to limit emotional eating.
8. Take it easy on yourself. If you mess up and have an emotionally driven snack, forgive yourself and move on. Brainstorm constructive ways to avoid eating the next time you feel emotional.

Though these tips to stop emotional eating may seem difficult at first, they will become habit after a few weeks! With practice and time, you can overcome your snack attack cravings. However, if you are really struggling with emotional eating, consider joining a group such as Food Addicts.

Priya Singh

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