Coping With Emotional Eating

goal setting gut health healthy living mental health nutrition Apr 05, 2023

You’ve heard the saying abs are made in the kitchen, right?

Well it really is true! When it comes to seeing results from all the hard work you are putting in at the gym or in your fitness classes, you’ve got to make a solid effort in the kitchen as well.

Fun-Fact: 90% of your results come from what you eat!

One of the biggest struggles I see my clients dealing with >>>> Emotional Eating!!

Emotional triggers are things that set us off.

Something comes up and that triggers an emotional reaction . . . which, for some, triggers them to eat foods they normally wouldn’t or increase the amount consumed they normally wouldn't.

When it comes to emotional eating the first thing I recommend my clients do is:  recognize the trigger(s)

When you are able to pin-point what triggers you then you can learn how to manage it.

Emotional eating encompasses both positive emotions, like you just got that promotion so you overindulge in your favorite cocktail and negative emotions like when stress or sadness causes you to grab for your favorite foods.

Here’s the good news >>> you have more control over your emotional eating than you think.

The simplest way to determine if you are over-consuming to manage an emotion is to ask yourself, "Am I eating because I am hungry?" or "Am I choosing to eat because of what is going on in my life right now?”

These questions will often result in the awareness that food is being utilized for more than hunger or fuel.

So what are your triggers? Common triggers are sadness, stress, boredom.

Triggers can be an external trigger like the TV time, computer time, or gaming, triggering you to eat a higher volume of food or choosing unhealthier options.

Next, we want to work on retraining our brain to replace our brain with a different response - replacing eating with a more positive behavior. Think: physical activity, deep breathing, mediation, music, or even temporarily leaving a situation to regain focus.

The goal here is to be responsive, not reactive. Putting YOU in control, not your emotions.

Emotional hunger and eating to fuel your body are two totally different things and usually drive what types of foods we choose to consume.

Emotion Driven Hunger: 

  • hits very quickly, making you feel instantly starving where true hunger comes on more slowly
    craves treat-like’ foods and comfort foods – think cookies, cakes, fried foods
  • tends to mindless eating – think-snacking in front of the tv, not intentionally consuming what your body needs
  • isn’t located in the stomach, but rather in the head
  • may result in guilt or shame

The foods you eat directly impact how and what you’re feeling.

For instance, if you’re eating fresh, whole foods that are filled with nutrients, you’ll feel more satisfied and energetic.

Fast food or foods high in carbohydrates, sugars, and fats will however leave you feeling moody and tired.

Here are 5 Tips to help you start to Retrain Your Brain:

Have a healthier option ready when you feel that trigger coming on. Stressed at work - take a 5 minute walk outside. Bored - take a walk, read a book, call a friend, watch a funny cat video. Sad - write in a gratitude journal, listen to music, do some mediation.

Practicing daily affirmations is a great way to help reduce emotional eating. Looking to reduce the amount of stress drinking you do? Practice using this daily affirmation “I do not need alcohol to cope with stress. I am strong and my body deserves to be honored.

Limiting processed/sugary foods can help cravings for more! Train your brain to use food as fuel. This will lead to choosing healthier options throughout the day and reducing those emotional cravings.

Learn to focus your energy on healthy behaviors. When you feel that trigger, take a moment to think about how you are feeling and why and what you can do instead of reaching for that food item.

Learn into those healthy habits in times of need. When we have a solid healthy routine that includes moving our body, eating a healthy diet, prioritizing sleep and managing stress - it makes leaning into those habits easier when life throws us a curveball.

Here's a bonus tip >>> lose the guilt sister!! When it happens let it go! Whether you ate too much when you were bored or had 3 glasses of wine with your girlfriends, give yourself some grace.

For more tips on how to Cope with Emotional Eating, download my guide 7 Simple Strategies to Reduce Emotional Eating eBook

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