Giving into your urges to overeat or binge on cookies, chips, and other junk does not make you weak, it makes you human. And the good news is, that learning how to stop emotional eating is easier than you think.
The causes are simple and common, but easily solved. All of the tips to stop emotional eating you’ll see below you can start using immediately. But remember that you’re not perfect — nobody is — so don’t fret if you have slip-ups.
Setbacks here and there are normal and will happen to all of us. So if these occur even after implementing the tips you’ll see in this article in your own life, don’t beat yourself up. Just accept it and think of what you can do differently next time so the problem won’t reoccur!
How Will I Feel After Eating This?
Most of the foods that we crave during emotional eating leave us feeling worse in the long term. Sure, you’re going to get that brief and fleeting moment of enjoyment, but it won’t compare to the disappointment we’ll feel after.
Deep down, you probably know this but sometimes our urges feel like more than we can control. One of the tricks to beating emotional eating is to make yourself think about how you’ll really feel after you’ve eaten a particular food.
You know it will make you feel bad soon after, so if you’re starting to feel the impulses, try to force yourself to wait 20 minutes before giving in. This will give you time to settle your emotions and hopefully make the right decision later.
Am I Just Hungry or Bored?
Feeling hungry doesn’t necessarily mean that you actually are hungry. Oftentimes when you find yourself mindlessly reaching for comfort snacks, it’s actually got nothing at all to do with your body needing food.
We call it “emotional eating” because it’s so closely linked to certain emotions. Feeling bored, stressed, or tired are common reactions for many people, causing us to reach for comfort food when we’re not actually even really hungry.
Try keeping a diary of what you eat and how you were feeling at the time, and you’ll probably spot some patterns with the emotions that fuel your comfort eating. Identifying your triggers is a big part of the battle so you can look at ways to address them, rather than engage in emotional eating.
Is It a Way to Distract Myself?
There is another common trigger involved in emotional eating: distraction. Often, you’ll find yourself eating as a way to fill a void. That can be linked to how you’re feeling but it can also be a form of distraction and avoidance.
When the urge to start comfort eating strikes, you need to turn the tables on it and find ways to distract yourself from the situation. Spending a bit of time doing something that you really enjoy is a great way to refocus your brain and as an added bonus, you’ll have none of the dreaded energy slump that tends to happen after emotional eating!
Next time you feel those urges to snack sneaking up on you, turn to a game on your phone rather than a sleeve of cookies.
Can It Wait?
The thing about emotional eating is that you feel compelled to start snacking on unhealthy foods right that second and the urge to do this can be all consuming and a bit scary too. Finding the temptation to resist can be very difficult and if you’re a long term emotional eater, it can feel like a losing battle to prevent it.
Instead of saying to yourself that you can’t have that cupcake (or whatever it is that you’re craving at that moment), try a stall tactic. Tell yourself that you can have it but not for 20 minutes and set a timer to let you know when that time is up.
Because you haven’t given into the urge right away, you’ll mostly find that it has gone away (or even been completely forgotten) by the time that buzzer goes off.
Am I Listening to My Body At All?
How often do you find yourself ruled by the clock when it comes to eating? Often, we’ll tell ourselves that it’s “too early” for lunch or dinner when we’re actually pretty hungry and guess what tends to happen in the short term? Mindless snacking!
In this scenario, you’re basically eating because you’re hungry but you’re going for the wrong things because it’s not your typical mealtime. If you’re certain it’s hunger and note boredom or stress, then allow yourself to prepare a proper, healthy meal and enjoy it guilt-free.
Look for options that are high in protein and/or fiber, these will help you stay full so that when your regular meal time comes, you won’t feel the need for another full plate. Instead, enjoy a fun activity with someone special or if you have a bit hunger, turn to a healthy snack.
Hopefully, this has given you some helpful ideas that will help you to quit emotional eating. Make sure to pin and share this so you can refer back to it if you feel yourself starting to slip in the future!