Ah, emotional eating! We've all been there, haven't we? (Please say it's not just me, or else I would feel too pathetic to continue writing this article). Anyway, no more self pity, let's get real! Emotional eating is one of the major food habits that keep people from losing weight and getting healthy.
Take me, for example: I've been trying to lose my freshman fifteen since … well, since freshman year. I haven't managed to lose all of it yet, but it's better than a year ago when I couldn't even lose one pound, even when I ran and worked out every single day. After doing some research (my sweet spot is research, I guess that's why I became a writer?), I found out that even if I worked out every day for hours, I wouldn't lose weight unless I'd change my bad eating habits. This meant that, up to last year, I've been struggling with my own case of bad emotional eating, and man is it a b**ch!
You see, emotional eating is common among people with high levels of stress and/or anxiety (and I have both, hallelujah!). Emotional eating comes in different forms: you could be the type who snacks at work every two hours, or the one who eats healthy the whole day and turns into a ghoul when it's late at night. Sometimes, you're just bored and you fill that boredom with food.
If you too manage feelings with food and don't know what else to do to deal with this, then you're in the right place! We will help you get rid of your emotional eating habits using some simple tips that anyone can follow and that you can naturally add to your daily life without any struggle.
Use the "Mindful eating" technique
You know, it's possible to get fat on healthy food. Astonishing, right? In the end, no one is safe from extra pounds (strangely, it makes me feel a little better about myself). Even if you're eating healthy food, if you're overeating yourself to a food coma, chances are you're not in touch with your eating habits and need to practice mindful eating.
One way to practice mindful eating is to be in touch with your hunger and satiety; it might come as a surprise, but most people are not, they'll just keep eating and eating until they're stuffed, not full (believe me, I am writing from real life experience here folks!).
Use the Hunger Scale
This is why we're suggesting you use the Hunger Scale. Wondering what is that? Well, friend, keep reading and you'll find out.
1. Starving – when you're ravenous
2. Uncomfortably hungry
3. Very hungry – when you think "I'm ready to eat now"
4. A little hungry
5. Not full but not that hungry – when you think "I'm thinking about other things than food now"
6. Satisfied and light – when you think "I could eat more but..."
7. Comfortable but slightly too full
8.Very full – when you've eaten more than you needed (that used to be my constant state up until last year)
9. Too full – when you feel too heavy and uncomfortable
10. Christmas dinner full – or what I like to call "Man, I'm gonna need to diet for at least 2 months to get rid of this food baby"
Now, there is one easy way to use this scale:
Do not wait until you're starving (1) or uncomfortably hungry (2) to eat, unless you want to go full ghoul on the food. Instead, wait just until you're very hungry and ready to eat (3), and go for a healthy meal. And then, stop eating at (6) when you're satisfied and light!
As you can see, it's pretty easy to do. Just remember: don't starve yourself, but don't overeat either. Both are bad for your weight and your health.
Understand your emotions
If you're feeling the urge to binge on a pack of cookies even though you've just had dinner/lunch, stop and try to assess what is exactly happening here. Observe your feelings and try to understand them, you'll end up finding out that you're probably stressed or bored, but not hungry. And check out the Hunger Scale, it will help you understand where you're in the scale and avoid emotional eating.
Always have a plan
One thing you can do is plan your daily meals and stick to it as much as you can. You can also have what I like to call a contingency plan to stop yourself from overeating by doing something you enjoy: read a book, write about what you feel, go for a walk or a run around the neighborhood, work out, listen to music, or take a relaxing bath. The idea is to do something to distract you from the emotional eating.
Always remember that healthy eating habits don't come by starving yourself either, so eat! Have a full breakfast, a nice lunch, a healthy snack if you feel hungry, and a light dinner.
Eat in nice places, and don't treat food like something to fear, but rather like something good in life that you should have, in moderation. In the end, it's all about creating new, healthier habits, and sticking to them!