Ever tried out a diet and felt like it just did not work out for you at all? You are not alone. Diets are unsuccessful for a reason: when we turn to food for other reasons than satisfying our hunger. This is where emotional eating comes in. Sometimes, we turn to food to fulfil our emotional needs, such as relieving stress, coping with sadness, or simply out of boredom. After the temporary euphoria felt after finishing an entire bag of chips in one sitting fades away, we are left even worse than we felt before.
As the guilt sets in, we slowly realise that gorging ourselves with food is no quick fix for the problems that we are facing and we vow to ourselves to never do it again. And yet, it still happens. This powerless vicious cycle seems to control our lives, and it feels almost as if there is nothing that we can do to escape. But, worry no more! Here, we get an inside look at how emotional eatings affect our bodies and what measures we can take to change things around.
What Is Emotional Eating?
Emotional eating, or also commonly known as stress eating, involves turning to food as a way to suppress or escape from negative emotions like stress, sadness, and anger. There are several triggers that could cause emotional eating; hence wreaking havoc on your diet plans. Since binge eating or treating yourself to junk food whenever you are upset can actually lead to weight gain, emotional eating can be detrimental in the long run. Besides, making a habit to count on food when you are upset will result in you reaching out for a snack to distract yourself from actually dealing with the problem at hand. This ultimately creates an unhealthy, toxic cycle that constantly repeats itself and hinders your weight loss efforts in the long run.
So, how can you tell the difference between emotional hunger and actual hunger? Physical hunger develops much more gradually as compared to emotional hunger, which usually sets in almost instantly. Aside from that, the fullness felt in physical hunger serves as an indication to stop eating, whereas it is almost non-existent in emotional hunger as you embark on a mindless food spree until you are no longer upset or when the binge-eating guilt sets in. Instead of going on extreme diets to lose weight fast, the best way is to identify your triggers and put a stop to emotional eating.
What Are The Triggers To Take Note Of?
There are various factors that can trigger emotional eating, but the most common ones are stress, sadness, anger, and boredom. Finding out what triggers you can allow you to take precautionary measures to prevent emotional binge-eating. Being self-aware has its own benefits as well since it helps you to curb your tendencies to overeat and manage your emotions at the same time.
Besides, craving junk food often happens when you are tired or burnt out too. Ever been guilty of snacking while working on a seemingly never-ending task? If you answered ‘yes’, that is a prime example of stress hunger and it can lead to mindless eating as you desperately seek for a ‘break’ from what you are being tasked to do. Diverting your stress to other activities such as a power nap or taking a short walk can, more often than not, enable you to feel a better sense of relief sans the guilty aftermath of binge-eating.
Do keep in mind that you are not actually feeling physically hungry during such situations and binge-eating is certainly not the best solution to fill up a void or pass the time. Instead, look towards a better alternative that positively impacts your wellbeing. Take part in activities that you enjoy, such as working out and meditation, to effectively manage your emotions or regain your composure to deal with the issue that you might be facing.
How Can We Curb This Dilemma?
Aside from opting for healthier alternatives to curb binge-eating when you are down or bored, you could also practice mindful eating to better control your consumption habits as well as your emotions. Remember that even if you feel powerless when it comes to your cravings and emotional eating, no effort is too little to make a change as every step counts. Be consistent in finding healthier alternatives to manage your emotions to gradually put an end to emotional eating.
In fact, you hold more power over your cravings than you think you do, and practising mindful eating can help you to realise that. As a practice that helps you to be more aware of your consumption habits, mindful eating puts a buffer between your triggers and emotional eating instead of just diving into your cravings when they hit. Since emotional eating involves mindlessly giving into your emotions through food, you should try taking 5 minutes to pause and reflect on your emotions. Doing so can help you to opt for a better alternative to resolve your issues and gain better control over emotional eating.