Experts believe that up to 75% of overeating may be due to reasons other than physical hunger. If you want to improve your relationship with food, learn to identify and control emotional eating.
Recognize the Signs
- Understand how emotional eating works. Emotional eating occurs when you use food to manage your feelings, rather than to satisfy your hunger. This can trigger guilt and create a cycle where you eat because you feel bad and feel bad because you eat. Positive feelings can also play a role if you associate food with celebrating.
- Keep a balanced perspective. It’s okay to take pleasure in food and enjoy sharing it with others. Concerns arise only when emotional eating interferes with your health and well being.
- Ask yourself if you feel out of control. You may have lost control of your eating habits if you want to make healthier choices but keep backsliding. Be honest with yourself if you resolve to have yogurt for breakfast but wind up stopping off for a bacon sandwich on the way to work.
- Notice your cravings. A strong desire for specific dishes is a common symptom of emotional eating. If you’re actually hungry, everything on the menu is likely to sound appealing. When you’re depressed over a recent breakup, ice cream may be the only thing you want to order.
- Evaluate your hunger levels. Another danger sign is eating when you already feel full. Slow down and decide if you really need another helping of mashed potatoes.
- Consider your family history. The way you eat may be grounded in patterns that started in childhood. Maybe you were rewarded with a homemade cake when you got good grades.
Read more: Weight Loss Tips That Really Work
Develop a Healthier Relationship With Food
- Keep a journal. It’s easier to spot patterns when you write down when and why you eat. You may notice that you snack on potato chips when you’re bored, even though you’ve just eaten a full meal.
- Substitute healthy foods. Cravings can be used to benefit you if you reach for nutritious alternatives. Homemade pita triangles dipped in olive oil can replace French fries with ketchup. Indulge in fresh fruit when you want dessert.
- Control portion sizes. Eliminating all your favorite treats can cause a backlash from deprivation. See if a sliver of pie makes you just as happy as a big slice and savor every bite.
- Seek distractions. Engage in productive activities that will take your mind off your stomach. Go for a walk, read a book, or do some housework.
- Develop positive coping techniques. Comfort foods deliver only short-term relief. Find more effective methods for managing daily stress, such as meditation, music or physical exercise.
- Avoid temptation. If you find your favorite cookies to be too irresistible, banish them from your pantry. Choose restaurants that specialize in grilled fish if you have trouble declining fried chicken.
- Get adequate sleep. Being chronically tired makes you more vulnerable to overeating. Aim for 8 hours of sleep every night. Take a warm bath before bed to raise your body temperature if you have trouble falling asleep.
- Reward your good behavior. Reinforce the positive changes you make in your behavior. Set realistic goals and praise yourself when you attain them. Buy yourself something special or visit your favorite museum.
- Seek professional help. If you need more help to change the way you eat, talk with an expert. Counseling may clarify the underlying issues you need to address. Nutritionists can advise you on a diet that will work with your individual lifestyle.
Liberate yourself from emotional eating so you can protect your health and enjoy your food more. These methods will help put you back in control.
What do you think? Have you tried these techniques, or do you have some of your own that work better for you? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section, below.
Angela Atkinson is a Certified Life Coach and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic relationships since 2006, Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed coaching and has certifications in life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. In her life coaching practice, Atkinson’s clients enjoy her personalized approach that allows and encourages them to become the best possible versions of themselves and to succeed in doing what they love most. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online and NarcissismSupportCoach.com.