Most people struggle with losing weight. We’ve heard how most people jump from trying one diet regimen to another to find the one that works for them. We also get frustrated when the point on the weight scale doesn’t budge no matter how we exhaust ourselves in working out. What could be the culprit behind our weight gain? The health experts say it may have something to do with emotional eating.
What is Emotional Eating?
According to health experts, it is a pattern of eating where most people use food as their source of comfort to help them deal and cope with stressful situations. This usually leads many people to eat more food mindlessly whenever they get bored or after having a difficult day at work.
The health experts warn emotional eating may lead to mindless eating, especially if the person gets completely dependent on food to deal with whatever emotions they feel – which negatively affects their happiness, health, life, and weight.
According to Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., CRNP, there are various factors that can trigger your emotional eating. Some of them are the following:
Most people who are emotional eaters are often struck with boredom which makes them want to eat. According to his clients, they feel the urge to fill the void they feel with eating foods to have something meaningful to do and kill their time with, even if it’s not necessarily good or healthy for their body.
Timothy says this trigger factor is difficult to overcome, especially since emotional eating has become a part of a person’s routine. According to him, habits give a sense of comfort and nostalgia to a person’s life. For example, a person may tend to eat ice cream as their reward for having good grades, or baking and eating cookies may remind them of their beautiful childhood memories with their grandparents.
It’s easier to overeat when you’re with your family and friends.
Timothy says emotional eating can also be triggered by peer pressure. Remember the time when your friends encourage you to eat a pizza? Or the popcorns you eat and sodas you drink while watching a horror marathon with your friends? Before you know it, you’ve been eating mindlessly as you bond with your friends.
Fatigue and Stress
Most people tend to overeat or eat mindlessly when they’re exhausted when they feel fatigue in their body, mind, and soul. Not only can eating help you revitalize your energy and ease some of your stress, but Timothy says it can also be a coping mechanism for some people who are dealing with an unpleasant task or situation.
Coping Strategies To Overcome Emotional Eating
If you’ve been struggling with emotional eating, the health experts recommend these tips to help you overcome it and lose weight.
Identify Your Trigger Factors.
Now that you’ve known the different factors of emotional eating, Timothy recommends you identify what factors trigger your emotional eating. He recommends you bring a food journal with you so that you can quickly list down the triggers whenever you have a sudden urge to eat. Now that you’ve identified your trigger factors, it’ll be easier for you to address it.
Divert Your Attention Elsewhere
Now that you’ve identified your trigger factors, Timothy recommends writing a counter-mechanism to divert your attention elsewhere. For example, instead of dwelling on the urge to eat, you can pick up your favorite book and read it. Or if not, you can workout instead or go out to take a walk with your dog. Take this chance to do something productive instead of giving in to the urge of emotional eating.
Most people confuse thirst with hunger, so it’s recommended to drink water first before eating.
If the urge to eat still persists, the health experts recommend you drink a glass of water first. According to Timothy, most people mistook their thirst for hunger, and it’s likely what you’re feeling isn’t emotional hunger, but thirst. Drink a glass or two and wait for 30 minutes to see if the hunger subsides. If it is, then you’re able to avoid another session of mindless eating successfully. If it not, then you can proceed on the next step.
Eat Healthy Foods.
If your hunger still persists, Timothy and the health experts recommend you stick to eating healthy foods. Avoid eating processed foods like fries and sodas as it cannot satiate your hunger and will only lead to weight gain.
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