We as humans are connected towards food. We eat popcorn, soft drinks, and chips while watching a movie. At Christmas, mom’s turkey and pudding come to mind and if it’s birthday parties, you will think of cake, pizza, ice cream, and burgers.
While we are supposed to actually eat to live, at times we live to eat. Food is meant to provide us energy and keep us going. But sometimes, we overeat and at other times, we skip meals. Our emotions drive our eating habits. So, for a few, if they are sad or angry, they forego eating or perhaps go in for a binge eating session. For a few others, stress or anxiety could trigger the same pattern. For a healthy body, it is important for us to learn to manage these emotional eating habits. Here are five steps to help you with that.
1. Be Mindful About Eating
Mindful eating is an art that needs to be learned in order to conquer emotional eating habits. Mindful eating basically refers to being more aware of our body’s hunger needs as physical and not emotional in origin. It means that a person will respond to the hunger pangs thoughtfully. The pull towards a certain food at a certain time or place and the cues for satiating taste are addressed in a certain way. The points quoted by the participants as part of a study conducted on this topic suggest the following to be kept in mind.
- Think and be more aware of the body’s hunger needs and use that insight to decide on what to eat and in what quantity.
- Eat the right way by slowing down the eating process through proper chewing, taking breaks and being mindful about the eating process.
- Avoid eating with distractions like the television, a book or the phone, where you won’t pay attention to what you are eating.
- Be thankful and acknowledge the food eaten without being judgmental about it in any way. So, don’t form opinions about the food that is eaten.
- Eating has to be relished as a wholesome experience by all senses. Hence, choose healthy and nutritious food and also make sure to satisfy your taste buds while at it.
- Know about the bad effects of emotional eating
- Practice meditation techniques for mindfulness and better control of the mind
Try the above methods to get a hang of mindful eating and keep those emotional cravings at bay. Once you consciously start implementing this, it can easily become a habit to eat healthily.1
2. Find Alternatives To Your Cravings
A very good way to manage emotional eating is to divert your attention from it by consciously adopting other alternates. When you sense the craving to eat something but realize that you are not actually hungry, check out the below options.
- Take a walk
- Go shopping
- Engage in some creative activity
- Listen to your favorite music
- Dance the blues away
- Play a game with kids or friends
- Watch a movie
- Read a book
- Take a nap
To summarize, just do anything that engages you, and takes your mind away from the cravings.2
3. Don’t Stock Up On The Food
“When people have a willpower failure, it’s because they haven’t anticipated a situation that’s going to come along”, said Charles Duhigg. This is really a quote worth keeping in mind if you want to get over emotional eating. The best way to control those eating pangs is not to buy those foods at all. If you find them in your pantry or the refrigerator, it is certainly a temptation. So, if there are foods the sight of which will make you forget your resolution and test your willpower, avoid stocking them. 3
4. Reward Yourself Once In A While
The best plans don’t work unless they have been thought through, put in writing, and also include some form of brownie points. Chart a plan for getting over your emotional eating habits. Prepare a calendar of sorts and assign a goal. Use the carrot and stick policy. Reward yourself when you are able to adhere to the plan for a certain number of days. And punish yourself by foregoing something dear, if you find yourself slipping from the plan. It is better if you can find a buddy who can monitor this for you. Making someone else accountable helps a lot in achieving goals as you feel more responsible. Self-measuring and monitoring can at times become dangerous to achieving the goal.4
5. Don’t Go Cold Turkey Too Soon
Human beings are highly impulsive. It is difficult to stop eating everything you feel so happy about, in a day or two. The best way would be to plan a phased out control of the emotional eating habits. So, set goals that are phased out. Do not try to stop everything at once and get depressed because you are not able to follow through. If this happens, there is the danger of giving up. As long as the intentions are strong, work out a SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound) plan and keep a check on it. Once again, reward yourself, when you have achieved milestones.
|↑1||Miller, Carla K., Jean L. Kristeller, Amy Headings, and Haikady Nagaraja. “Comparison of a mindful eating intervention to a diabetes self-management intervention among adults with type 2 diabetes: a randomized controlled trial.” Health Education & Behavior 41, no. 2 (2014): 145-154.|
|↑2||Albers, Susan. 50 ways to soothe yourself without food. New HarbingerPublications,2009.|
|↑3||Rath, Tom. Eat Move Sleep. MissionDayLLC,2013.|
|↑4||Kraus, Stephen. Psychological Foundations Of Success. NextLevelSciencesInc, 2002.|