Stressed over a conversation you had with a coworker or associate and find yourself craving or already reaching for that candy bar, chips or donut?
Did do as well as you had wanted or studied for on an exam and felt like you had a lot riding on it such as your final grade or if you were going to move to the next course or not and so your binging on ice cream and cup cakes or maybe even washing it down with sugary soda’s and/or alcoholic drinks too.
Perhaps other life events have created some kind of moods or negative emotions to arise and when this happens you realize after the fact you have eaten foods to make you feel better, but you weren’t really hunger, and perhaps even felt worse afterward.
Maybe it isn’t even just bad feelings that are a trigger for you -but even when you feel like celebrating, your self reward is to eat things that in the long run, you realize don’t make you feel very good afterward, but you think you can’t stop or don’t until you’ve already ate nearly the whole cake or a double order of super sized fries, or large pizza with extra cheese and everything on it.
Any of this sounds familiar? Many experience this and have yet to realize it, until now.
The first step is realizing or becoming aware that you have the habit of responding to emotion with food. Congratulations! It takes courage to be willing to see the self and acknowledge truthfully from within. Now you are empowered to take action.
Realize that not everyone who eats emotionally will become or is obese. At the same time, not everyone who is obese is an emotional eater. However, being and remaining in the state of one who tries to fulfill themselves by emotional eating can trigger other health issues such as diabetes, hypoglycemia, high cholesterol/blood pressure, etc., as well as obesity.
Step’s to help yourself gain control and become self empowered again is to:
1) Realize when/what moods are a trigger for you, then in that moment ask yourself if you are feeding a physical hunger (genuine need for nourishment) or what emotion are you feeling that feels a need to be fed/nurtured?
2) Eat a healthy breakfast. When you eat a breakfast that is nutritious and full of protein, it will energize your mind and body for the day, so you will be less likely to physically respond to an emotional need to eat; thus easier to acknowledge the emotion for what it is verses feeding it.
3) Choose to eat balanced healthy meal plans throughout your day, including the choices in snacks (i.e. raw nuts, fruits and/or popcorn) verses fad or yo-yo dieting. This way your body and mind will consistently attain the necessary nutrients it needs to function and not feel a need to send false messages to eat anything to attain any specific nutrient it might be lacking; thus again making it easier for you to acknowledge your emotions for what they are verses just feeding them to hide them temporarily.
4) Manage your stress constructively by implementing positive tools in your lifestyle that works for your personality, such as some form of meditation, implementing deep breathing exercise, being consistent with a hobby (i.e. reading, painting, puzzles, drawing, 3D models, etc), gardening, walking, playing games, etc.
5) Manage your anxiety, health, stress and overall well being with regular exercise that matches your lifestyle and personality. Regardless of anybodies schedule, there is always time when one prioritizes. It only takes 10-20 minute increments daily to walk in order to have a significant positive effect on your mental, emotional, physical and even spiritual well being. Add walking up and down a flight of stairs during that time period 2-4 times at least, and that is a bonus to your body, which you will feel wonderful!
6) Get counseling. Life happens and events can be challenging by nature. Human beings were not intended to deal with life alone, or we would not have been created in such a large number and continue to grow. We were meant to share with and support one another; so share your joy and ask for help when it hurts – get counseling; then see how much more empowered you are to see yourself in a new light over your own emotions and eating right for you!
The above recommendations are not in place of, however can support a medical doctor, licensed psychologist or licensed nutritionist or dietitian. Please consult a professional for specific medical conditions.