Do you find yourself overeating when you are feeling sad, anxious or bored? Do you find yourself eating when you’re not really hungry? Do you use food as a source of comfort? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your emotions may be driving you to eat – despite not being hungry.
These three tips can help you manage your emotions rather than stuffing them with food.
Do you find yourself reaching for a candy bar because you had a particularly bad day? Maybe eating candy gives you instant gratification – the sugar rush combined with chocolate makes you feel better. But after you have devoured the candy, you are still left feeling upset. What gives?
The first step is to get in touch with what emotions trigger you to reach for your ‘comfort food’ when you aren’t even hungry. Food won’t make the emotions go away. This process can be as simple as keeping a journal. Before you reach for that pint of ice-cream, write down what emotion you are feeling and if you are truly hungry. When you keep track in this way, certain patterns may emerge. Maybe you realize that it’s when you are feeling as though your boss is being unreasonable that you automatically grab a candy bar from the vending machine to soothe yourself. You just ate lunch, so how hungry are you really??
The second step is to find a healthier alternative that does not involve food. Mindless eating is soothing because it numbs our emotions. A healthier approach is something that is always available – our breath. If you can slow down your breathing, your body naturally becomes relaxed. Most of us unconsciously breathe from our chests. Chest breathing can increase feelings of anxiety and stress. Instead try taking a few deep belly breaths. Do this for one minute and notice how relaxed you are.
And step three is to practice calming techniques when you aren’t stressed. This could be meditation, positive self-talk, or eating mindfully. Anything that will calm you without mindlessly reaching for food as a source of comfort. The more you practice, the better prepared you will be when you find yourself emotionally upset.