Do you turn to food for comfort whenever you are upset, angry, stressed, bored, exhausted or lonely? There is a difference between mouth hunger and stomach hunger. Your emotions have an unbelievable power to influence your food choice.
Comfort eating does not fix emotional problems. Although it may make you feel better, it is just a temporary fix and will lead to you overeating the wrong food. You get trapped in an unhealthy cycle where the real problem is not addressed and you also feel guilty for overeating. So how do you stop comfort eating? Let’s take a look…
Here are 8 tips on how to stop comfort eating even when your whole world crumbles
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1) Identify your triggers
Identifying the triggers that make you overeat is the first step on how to stop comfort eating. One effective way is to start taking note of the reasons why you eat. Keep a journal of your emotions just before eating and what you eat. This will help you identify emotional-related food triggers. It will help you learn how to deal with them effectively so you are not eating in response to how you feel but when you are genuinely hungry.
Taking time to eat and enjoy your food as a pleasure in itself and not to cure your emotions is another tip on how to stop comfort eating. Do not eat in front of the TV, computer or laptop. Make your meal time a special occasion. Focus on how the food feels and tastes in your mouth. Do not feel guilty about the food you eat. Really enjoy your moment of eating.
3) Manage your stress
Managing your stress is another effective tip on how to stop comfort eating. There is an emotional connection between stress and food. A study found that women who experience chronic work stress , who are burn out were more vulnerable to emotional comfort eating (1).
Chronic stress has an impact on your cortisol level, the stress hormone. An increase in cortisol makes you crave sugary fatty food.
Recalling joyful moments in your life can help to release stress and prevent you from turning to food for comfort. Abdominal breathing exercise, meditation and yoga are also additional ways to help reduce stress.
4) Get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep is another important tip on how to stop comfort eating. The importance of sleep cannot be underestimated. A study found that if you do not have enough sleep, you may also eat too much(2). Researchers found that lack of sleep was associated with an increase in the levels of the hormone leptin and a decrease in the level of the hormone ghrelin which can lead to overeating.
It is important for you to set a sleep schedule and stick to it. Tiredness can lead to you eating unhealthy food.
5)Learn to love yourself
Getting rid of all negative self talk is another effective tip on how to stop comfort eating. Affirm yourself positively. Tell yourself you are lovable just the way you are and see yourself as lovely.
6) Pamper yourself
Make time to pamper yourself. Being aware that you deserve to look after yourself is another tip on how to stop comfort eating. Identify what helps you to relax and gives you pleasure. If your life is so fun-filled, there will be no time for comfort eating.
7) Get rid of any temptation
What type of food do you have in your refrigerator and cupboard? Not keeping supplies of comfort foods that are hard to resist in your refrigerator and cupboard is another effective tip on how to stop comfort eating. Plan ahead and try not to go shopping when you feel angry, bored or are lonely until you are sure your emotions are stable.
8) Have a support network
Having a network of friends and family to support you is another tip on how to stop comfort eating. You can also join support groups and meet other people with related problems.
Comfort eating can be dangerous to your health and weight loss efforts. It only serves as a distraction to potentially curb the underlying emotional issue. You have to learn how to manage the discomforts in life and deal with uncomfortable feelings. Make it your goal to get comfortable with discomfort.
Consider getting professional help if you cannot control comfort eating on your own.
1) Nevanpera NJ, Hopsu L, Kuosma E, Ukkola O, Uihi J, Laitinen JH (2012) Occupational burnout, eating behaviour and weight among working women, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 95: 934-943. doi:10.3945/ajcn.111.014191. Epub 2012 Feb 29.
2)ScienceDaily (2012) Lack of sleep may increase calorie consumption http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120314170456.htm