How to overcome compulsive or emotional eatingHealth Fitness
Have you ever felt so lonely that it made you grab that tub of ice cream in the fridge and eat it while your tears flowed? Or have you ever felt so happy that you ate a lot while laughing and talking to others about your exciting experience? Yes, we all love to eat no matter the circumstances. Food is a basic need in life. Even when we’re not overly emotional, we eat because it’s a way of life.
Everyone knows that we eat to nourish ourselves and stay healthy. But eating too much can lead to excess body weight, which could lead to poor health. Being overweight can be stressful. I know, I’ve been there. I was skinny by nature, but as I get older, my metabolism slows down, so I put on those extra pounds on the scale. But I was able to get over that. I won’t write here about how I lost weight, but I would like to focus on emotional eating. One of my online friends inspired me to write this. He broke up with her boyfriend, he was able to move on, but now he’s getting emotional again. Oh good…
We all have great and terrible days. Now, some people eat a lot when they feel emotional or stressed. I don’t know why, but eating can make us feel better. But the fact remains that if you overeat, you will gain weight, which is not easy to lose. So what drives us to become emotional eaters? Try asking yourself these questions:
-Have you recently experienced a painful breakup or loss of a loved one?
Have you felt stressed at work?
-Has there been an unresolved family or personal matter that has been bothering you?
If you answer “yes” to any of the questions above, you are probably an emotional eater. Evaluate yourself: do you eat even when you are not hungry? I was an emotional eater. During those times when anxiety strikes, I turn to my “comfort foods” like ice cream, chocolate, cake, donuts, and other sweets. Until I realized that I had already gained too much weight and that my clothes no longer fit me. It’s not just about being fit and keeping the body I want. It’s about staying healthy. So let me share how I was able to overcome being an emotional eater:
I accepted the fact that I eat a lot whenever I feel stressed or emotional. I believe this is the first step to overcoming emotional eating. Once you’ve accepted that fact, it’ll be easier for you to pause and think first whenever you feel the urge to bite into that big slice of pizza just because you’re disappointed or things didn’t go your way.
“Am I really hungry?”
This is something you should ask yourself before you reach for that tub of ice cream or before you bite into that big bar of chocolate. I read somewhere on the internet (sorry I forgot where I got this information from) that whenever you “think” you’re hungry, drink a glass of water first because thirst can be mistaken for hunger. The same can be applied to compulsive eating. Whenever you feel anxious, drink a glass of water first. Then think and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” before eating.
This is a habit I forced myself to develop, and I felt so proud the first time I stopped binge eating. That time, I had a rough night at work (I used to work nights) and when I got home in the morning, I was almost tempted to order a hamburger at a fast food restaurant, but changed my mind. Instead, I changed my clothes and put on my running shoes. I ran and circled the neighborhood. I was amazed because for the first time I had noticed the color of my neighbors’ houses, the lady with 5 cats and the happy children walking to school. It was like I just moved in but have been living in the same neighborhood for over 5 years. After a healthy sweat, I went home, took a quick shower, had breakfast (a healthy one with no burgers or donuts) and was happy. And yes, I did not overeat.
divert your attention
What if you suddenly feel nervous, excited, or moody? You can focus your attention on other things. What I do is write it on a piece of paper or in my journal (yes, I still keep a journal). Or you can listen to good music or watch a good show, just avoid reaching for the popcorn. Or if it is possible and safe for you to do so, you can go for a walk. Just walk calmly and breathe. Do something that can focus your attention on something other than eating, except of course when you’re REALLY hungry.
I never strayed away from ice cream, donuts, cakes, chocolates, and other sweet things that I love. Overcoming the compulsion to eat doesn’t mean you have to give up the things you like (at least, that’s what I think). What I do is eat those rarely and only eat them to reward myself. Like the time I was able to finish all my handmade wedding invitations, I felt happy and thought I deserved a reward. So I had three scoops of my favorite ice cream. Yes, I still had ice cream but I didn’t consume the entire tub. I got three firsts because I think I deserved it. And that was it.
Overcoming emotional eating is no easy task. In some cases, you may need to seek professional advice to help improve your well-being through relaxation procedures, honing your critical thinking skills, and managing your emotions. Seek professional help and involve your family as well.
Just to remind you, I am not a professional. I am simply sharing my experience. It would be best to talk to a specialist in this field.
And you? Have you been a compulsive eater? How were you able to overcome emotional eating? Feel free to share your comments and suggestions in the comments section. Thank you for reading!