Many people turn to food to escape their problems, curb their stress or simply because they’re bored. Emotional eating generally causes you to eat too much, particularly fatty or sugary foods. Here are practical guidelines to help you get assistance with emotional eating.
What is Emotional Binge Eating?
An emotional eater eats to relieve stress or negative emotions, such as loneliness or depression. Other common emotional eating triggers are cloudy, dreary weather, fatigue and health problems. Some people struggle with emotional binge eating, or consuming large amounts of food in a short period of time–sometimes without even tasting the food.
Get Help: Emotional Eating Prevention Tips
Although your favorite comfort food may temporarily alleviate stress, it’s not a good long-term solution to your problems. Emotional binge eating can actually become a source of depression and stress, perpetuating a cycle of negative emotions. If you don’t get help, emotional eating may also lead to obesity or an eating disorder.
The following tips may help you stop emotional eating:
- Avoid dieting. Although it may seem counterintuitive, dieting can actually encourage emotional binge eating. When you deprive body of the food it needs, you’re more likely to end up bingeing on unhealthy foods to ease hunger and cope with emotions. Enjoy healthy snacks between meals to avoid emotional binge eating.
- Check yourself. Before you open the cupboard, ask yourself: “Am I hungry or is there another reason I feel like eating?” If you’re not truly hungry, don’t eat anything.
- Don’t buy junk food. If you don’t have any junk food on hand, you’ll have an easier time resisting emotional binge eating.
- Find substitutes. If you find that you eat when you’re bored, fill your schedule with activities, leading to little free time. If food is a source of comfort, seek other sources of comfort, such as a warm bath or a cup of aromatic tea.
- Join a local support group. One of the best ways to help for emotional eating is to join a local support group. You can share your story and benefit from the experiences of other people who struggle with emotional binge eating.
- Reduce your stress. Helpful stress management or relaxation techniques may also help you stop emotional eating. Adjust your schedule, giving you time to relax and recuperate. Instead of keeping your problems to yourself, talk to a trusted friend.
Talk Your Doctor about Emotional Eating
If self-help isn’t working, you may have an eating disorder, a psychological disorder that requires proper medical care. Book an appointment to talk to your doctor about your symptoms, or meet with a therapist to address issues that may be behind your emotional eating.
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Mayo Clinic. (2009). Weight-loss help: Gain control of emotional eating. Retrieved September 17, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/weight-loss/MH00025
National Eating Disorders Association. (2005). Listen to your body. Retrieved September 17, 2010, from http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/nedaDir/files/documents/handouts/ListenTYB.pdf
Segal, J. & Smith, M. (n.d.) Eating disorder treatment and recovery: Help for anorexia and bulimia. Retrieved September 13, 2010, from http://helpguide.org/mental/eating_disorder_self_help.htm
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