In Part 1 I introduced you to the widespread issue of emotional eating. This impacts on the lives of many people for various reasons…

This concluding part looks at recognising the causes behind emotional eating and how to combat it.

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Identify emotional eating triggers

Once you understand what causes the emotional triggers this can also help you break the cycle, are there certain places, situations or feelings that make you want to reach for sugary or fatty foods?

Stress – chronic stress leads to high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol being released and this triggers cravings for salty, sweet, and high-fat foods. The more uncontrolled stress is in your life, the more likely you are to turn to food for emotional relief.

Emotions – Eating can be a way to temporarily “stuff down” emotions, such as anger, fear, sadness, anxiety, loneliness, resentment, and shame. Food helps you to avoid the emotions at least for a little while but the problem is this is short lived and so you end up in a cycle.

Boredom – Often food is way to occupy the time, to relieve boredom, or as a way to fill feelings of emptiness and dissatisfaction with your life.

Childhood habits – Were you taken out for pizza when you got a good report from school, or did you get biscuits when you were feeling sad? Or do you have fond memories of baking with your mum?  These emotionally based eating habits often carry over into adulthood and when we have the same occasions or feelings in later life we treat ourselves the same way our parents did

Ending Emotional Eating

You need to find other ways to feed your feelings that don’t involve food; you need to have conscious control over your eating habits. Have other ways to fulfil yourself emotionally. The first step is to understand the cycle of emotional eating, understand your triggers, and then find alternatives to food that you can turn to for emotional fulfilment. 

Some suggestions are:

Spend more time with friends, take up a new hobby or join a club
Take a walk
Take a bath with scented candles
Treat yourself to a spa day or a massage
Read a good book
Practice mindful eating, this is a practice that develops your awareness of eating habits and allows you to pause between your triggers and your actions. You can then change the emotional habits that have sabotaged your diet in the past.

It creates awareness of:

Physical and emotional cues
Non-hunger triggers for eating
How you buy, prepare and eat your food
Choosing foods that you enjoy and nourish you
Mindful eating also helps you to learn to meet your emotional needs in ways other than eating. It helps you to pause and reflect when cravings hit and you give yourself the opportunity to make a different choice.

The one thing I tell my clients is that hunger is not an emergency, this helps you pause and wait and while you are waiting you can check in with yourself and how you are feeling.stop emotional eating_25 Steps to Mindful Eating

Make a shopping list and stick to it.  Most of your shopping should be in the fresh produce section, avoid the centre aisles where the processed and packaged foods are.

Only eat when you are hungry and start with a small portion.

Appreciate your food; you can either silently or out loud express your gratitude for the opportunity to enjoy delicious food and give thanks for the people you are eating with.

Take small bites, chew your food thoroughly and savour it, identify the ingredients, especially seasonings.

Eat slowly. If you follow the advice above, you won’t bolt your food down. Devote at least five minutes to mindful eating before you chat with your tablemates.

If you are an emotional eater and you would like to stop the cycle and become a mindfulness eater then connect with me by clicking here, and find out how I can help create a bespoke plan for you, and get you started on your wellness journey straightaway.  We work closely with clients to help increase their energy levels, reduce symptoms and achieve long term optimal health and happiness.

Connect here with WatchFit Expert Kerry Madgwick

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