How to Recognise and Conquer Emotional Eating in 6 Easy Steps

Do you eat when you feel emotional and not only when you are hungry? If you’re someone who reaches for the biscuit cupboard when you’re feeling sad, stressed, lonely or bored then you have a tendency towards emotional eating. Whilst this doesn’t constitute a real problem if it’s an occasional thing, if your go-to way of coping with your emotions is eating then it’s worth considering the impact this may be having on your health and well-being. It’s certainly worth paying attention to your eating habits particularly when you’re bored, tired, lonely, stressed or angry, and if care is not taken you may end up feeding a never-ending problem. While eating can help address emotional hunger, it doesn’t necessarily address the root cause of the problem. If anything, the excess calorie intake only makes you feel even worse than before. The endless cycle continues.

1. How to Recognise Emotional Eating

While emotional eating often results from negative experiences and feelings, it can also result from happier times such as celebrations, rewarding yourself for goals achieved or holidays. The following are signs that you are guilty of emotional eating:

  • You are eating to silence shame, resentment, loneliness, anxiety, sadness, fear, and anger.
  • You are eating so that you can have something to do. People who feel empty or unfulfilled often eat to compensate for their emotional emptiness, to relieve boredom or to fill a void in their life. In the moment eating distracts you from feelings of purposelessness and dissatisfaction.
  • You relish eating unhealthy foods as a way of remembering some of your childhood experiences.
  • You overeat in the presence of others due to peer influence, being encouraged to celebrate etc.
  • You find yourself feeling hungrier when you are stressed, thus you seek comfort through eating. Due to high levels of cortisol in your body, you end up craving fried, sweet, and salty foods.

2. How to Stop Emotional Eating

Many people who are prone to emotional eating feel powerless when it comes to taking control over their food cravings and emotions. But do not despair because there is hope. With a little more effort, it is very easy to stop emotional eating. The key is to find other ways to fulfill yourself emotionally and to take practical steps to manage your stress levels.

Here are a few things you can try to help you regain control of your emotional eating habits:

3. Take a deep breath.

This helps relieve feelings of stress. Deep breathing also releases endorphins, which are feel-good hormones. It gives you time to think about the most appropriate response to the events taking place. Take five seconds to breathe in through your nose and hold for a similar length of time. Gradually, release the air through your mouth for another five seconds. Repeat it five times and you will begin to feel calmer, more at ease and in control.

4. Get more active.

Physical activity burns calories and lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Consider combining cardiovascular activity with high-intensity interval training for a more effective way of combatting stress, making you feel great and improving the quality of your life overall.

5. Eat and enjoy a rainbow of healthy foods.

Adopting a diet full of whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meat, kefir, and yogurt helps to keep stress levels at bay, and boosts happiness. These are ‘feel good’ foods and will increase your motivation and zest for life. They contain essential nutrients such as calcium, zinc, selenium, magnesium, and the B vitamins that help manage stress, fight illness, and boost strength. They also keep your blood sugar at a healthy level. Ensure you are appreciating the foods you are consuming and be mindful of the amazing benefits these health foods have for your physical and mental health.

6. Plan your shopping ahead.

Plan your weekly shop in advance and take time and care when writing your shopping list. Research healthy recipes beforehand and add the ingredients to your list. Avoid impulse buying as much as possible and consider the health value of all items on your list.

You don’t have to be a victim of emotional eating. By taking control of your emotions and life, you can easily break out of the vicious cycle of stress and emotional eating. Start today!

Book a consultation with me to find how I can be of service to you, to arrange this please contact me.

Five Tips for Managing Stress

Winston Churchill said: “If you are going through hell, keep going!”

Stress tends to creep up on us due to a perceived inability to manage the demands life throws at us. Sometimes it can be beneficial as it pushes us to achieve more, but higher levels of stress sustained over a long period of time can be harmful to our bodies and minds. Stress can have a damaging effect on our immune system, central nervous system, cardiovascular system and even mess with our emotions in a big way.

When we allow stress to continue unchecked and untreated, it can cause chronic anxiety, muscle pain, insomnia, high blood pressure and weakened immune system. Research has shown that stress can play a significant role in the development of diseases like depression, obesity, and heart disease.

These risks mean that we need to develop defence strategies and stress combating tactics to protect ourselves from the dangers that may arise if we don’t work to mitigate stress. There are many ways to self-manage stress and regain control of your full faculties and be healthy again. Here are just a few of the most effective stress combatting tips:

1. Step back from the stressor

Sometimes it is difficult to break away from the main cause of your stress, for example, increasing debt or an unhealthy relationship. However, when you take a step back, this could mean taking a couple of days away to yourself and allowing yourself time to think, you give yourself an opportunity to reflect. This may result in you noticing or feeling things you weren’t before, and in this more relaxed and reflective state you may find a solution that wasn’t obvious before. You will need to face up to the root of the stress at some point, but taking a short break in the interim can help you see more clearly and boost your strength.

2. Exercise

Regular exercise is vital for a strong body and mind and can significantly reduce stress levels. Just 30 minutes of exercise, 3 times a week will have you smiling and full of energy. Exercise needn’t be meaningless, it could be walking the dog or dancing with friends, it doesn’t have to be solitary either! Exercising with others is a great motivator. Take your pick, run, swim, play a sport, take a salsa dancing class, whichever form of exercise you choose will help you manage your stress levels better. Build up slowly, just 5 – 10 minutes a day will enhance your mood.

3. Meditate and practice mindfulness

Two of the most popular relaxation techniques around the world are meditation and mindfulness. Both help ease stress by releasing negative emotions and focusing on the present moment. They relieve stress by providing the space and clarity we need to alleviate the demands we imagine and which, in many cases aren’t valid.

4. Accept what you cannot control

One of the best ways of reducing stress levels is accepting the fact that you do not always have control over certain situations. Stressful events will occur, there is no avoiding them. We can however control how we react to a stressful situation, how we interpret our experiences is very much down to us.
As Viktor Frankl said, “The one absolute freedom a person has, is the power to choose in a given situation their attitude.”

5. Open up to people

Sharing our experiences both positive and negative can help ease the pressure we feel. It can bring huge relief to discover someone else is experiencing similar problems to us, or to listen to alternative solutions suggested by others.

Stress is a part of everyday life and there’s no way to avoid it completely. Without it, we wouldn’t experience the feeling of accomplishment that follows the overcoming of obstacles and challenges. Ensure you set achievable, realistic expectations for yourself and learn to keep things in perspective.

If you’d like to know more please feel free to contact me.