Food is comforting.
Really, who hasn’t reached for their favorite comfort food after a long, hard day. And who hasn’t rewarded themselves with a “treat” after a big “win”? It’s not unusual, but when you start to rely on food as your main form of comfort or reward there’s a problem.
Emotional eating, or comfort eating, can be triggered by a number of emotions, whether they’re good or bad.
Even if you don’t consider yourself an emotional eater, you could be wrong. As a personal trainer and nutritionist who specializes in weight loss, I’m going to give you my best tips on how to stop emotional eating and lose weight!
Identifying Emotional Eating
Often times emotional eating means overeating. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never turned to celery sticks when I’m feeling blue. Instead, it’s always the high-calorie, carb-heavy foods. Which definitely isn’t good for your waistline or weight loss goals.
The problem is that you might not even realize that you’re an emotional eater. Emotional eating is when you turn food into a form of comfort or escape. When food holds a special purpose other than giving your body fuel, that’s emotional eating.
There are a few telltale signs that your mind has hijacked your stomach.
1. You Eat When You’re Not Physically Hungry
Hunger isn’t an emotion. Or at least it shouldn’t be. When you do eat, it should be because you have a physical need.
Think about when the last time you ate was. Was it three hours ago or one hour ago? If it was only an hour ago then you’re probably not actually hungry. That or you need to eat more filling snacks and meals.
Want a delicious meal that will fill you up, that tastes great, and will block your hunger for hours? Try IdealShake! This low-calorie shake is super simple to prepare (whip up a shake in a matter of minutes), blocks hunger for up to three hours, and it comes in eight, mouth-watering flavors.
If you’re not sure whether you’re actually hungry do the “apple test”. Ask yourself if you’re hungry enough to eat an apple. If not, then you’re not really hungry. True hunger isn’t nearly as picky as emotional cravings.
2. It’s Hard to Satisfy Your “Craving”
Again, true hunger is easily satisfied by healthy foods. When you’re actually hungry broccoli, chicken, and brown rice sounds like the most delicious dinner EVER! Emotional hunger can be hard to satisfy. It can be difficult to scratch that itch and fulfill your cravings.
When you’re eating emotionally nothing hits the spot so you end up eating and eating. Have you ever kept snacking after you felt full only because you couldn’t find the right food. You’ve probably even found yourself chowing down on foods that you don’t even like on your quest to feel satisfied. I know, I’ve been there!
3. You Mindlessly Munch
Mindless eating can be a little scary. You sit down to watch your favorite show. You’re cuddled up with a comfy blanket and your favorite snack and you’re ready to unwind. Eating is so relaxing. But you’re so lost in the act of chewing and swallowing that you barely even taste the food. Before you know it you’ve polished off the whole thing.
Emotional eating has an element of mindlessness. You’re trying to disconnect from your negative emotions or fill a void with food.
4. You Eat During Emotional Times… Or Just to Kill Time
If you find yourself eating when you’re feeling sad, stressed, or mad, then you probably already realize that you’re an emotional eater. But emotional eating can be a response to positive emotions or just feeling bored. Using food and eating to comfort, celebrate, or keep yourself occupied is a sure way to create an unhealthy relationship with food.
And when it comes to eating in response to a bad mood, your food choices are only going to make things worse. According to researchers at Penn State, women who were concerned about their eating habits only felt worse after “bouts of disordered eating.”
“There was little in the way of mood changes right before the unhealthy eating behaviors,” said Heron. “However, negative mood was significantly higher after these behaviors.”
Overcoming Emotional Eating
The first thing to understand when trying to overcome emotional eating is that it is possible! You can take control of your emotions and your actions. But it takes real effort and consistency. Once you master that, you can control your eating, cut calories and lose weight!
Don’t forget that this is a process. Creating new, healthy habits doesn’t just happen in a day. So be patient with yourself! If you do slip up, don’t beat yourself up. Just try again next time. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to have healthy and filling foods to turn to. If a food is healthy, filling, AND delicious, even better! It will help to satisfy those cravings without causing you to go overboard, and it will also help you to feel physically full.
IdealShake meal replacement shake is great because it checks all three of those boxes! It tastes like a dessert (have you seen all the delicious flavors?!) but it’s low-calorie and it has a hunger-blocker to help you curb your cravings. You’ll feel like you’re cheating but you’re not!