Balancing Your Relationship With Food: (part 2)
So what can we do about emotional eating? First we need to start to be aware of some of our emotional eating cues; what are the emotions that cause us to overeat. If we can be alert to the why of our problem then we will be better equipped to deal with the how of fixing it. Here are some steps for changing emotional eating patterns:
Identify healthy coping skills that you have used in response to your triggers. How can you begin to use these healthy coping skills more often?
Have a hunger reality check. Is your hunger physical or emotional? If you ate just a few hours ago and don’t have a rumbling stomach, you’re probably not really hungry. Give the craving a little time to pass and begin to focus on the actual feeling.
Keep a food diary. Write down what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, how you’re feeling when you eat and how hungry you are. Over time, you may see patterns emerge that reveal the connection between mood and food.
Realize this will be a major change. Ever since mom gave us that cookie for being good, we have associated food with rewarding ourselves. Begin to start to change your way of thinking and find healthy rewards instead.
Begin to implement interventions and strategies to deal with your underlying emotions. For example, if your main trigger is boredom, seek out activities to prevent you from becoming bored. Join a club, take a walk, schedule an outing with a friend, listen to music, take up a hobby or become a volunteer.
Work out your worries. Exercise can clear your mind, give you energy and produce endorphins, which make you happy!
Nurture your self in new ways. Give yourself what you need. Sleep when you are tired, eat when you are hungry, enjoy solitude when you need to be alone and share with others when you need to express.
Reconnect with yourself. We often focus on others but not enough on ourselves. Begin to put your own needs first and learn to take care of yourself in healthy ways. Learning to reconnect with yourself and your emotions can help to stop the need for emotional eating.
Learn from setbacks. If you have an episode of emotional eating, forgive yourself and start fresh the next day. Try to learn from the experience and make a plan for how you can prevent it in the future. Focus on the positive changes you’re making in your eating habits and give yourself credit for making changes that’ll lead to better health.