When you’re at your lowest point emotionally, you’re usually driven to crave food the most. A person may eat for comfort consciously or unconsciously when standing up to a difficult problem, feeling stressed, or even feeling bored.
You can sabotage your weight-loss efforts if you eat emotionally. It often leads to overeating, particularly of sweet and fatty foods that are high in calories. Fortunately, if you can’t control your eating habits due to emotional reasons, you can take steps to regain control and lose weight again.
The Mood-food-weight Loss Cycle
A person who uses food to suppress or soothe negative emotions, such as stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness, or loneliness, is considered to be emotional eating. Events in your life or, more commonly, the hassles of everyday life can trigger negative emotions, which can lead to emotional eating and interfere with your weight loss efforts. Among these triggers are:
- Conflicts in relationships
- Stress at work or from other sources
- Pressures on finances
- Problems with health
Despite some people eating less in the face of strong emotions, if you’re emotionally distressed you may resort to impulsive or binge eating, eating whatever is convenient without enjoying yourself.
When you’re angry or stressed, you might reach for a snack without even thinking about what you’re doing.
Food can also be a distraction. You may enjoy comfort food instead of dealing with a painful situation if you’re worried about an upcoming event or stewing over a conflict, for instance.
Overeating is often the result of whatever emotion motivates you. After the temporary effect wears off, the emotions return, and you then have to deal with the guilt of not meeting your weight-loss goal. Taking your emotions into account can lead to a dangerous cycle – you overeat because of your emotions, you feel bad because you strayed away from your weight-loss schedule, and you overeat again.
What Can You Do To Get Back on Track?
You can control cravings when negative emotions trigger emotional eating. Try these tips to stop emotional eating:
- You should keep a food diary. Note what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, how you feel after eating, and how hungry you are. As you observe patterns over time, you might discover a link between mood and food.
- Manage your stress. Consider a stress management technique like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing if you experience emotional eating due to stress.
- Take a reality check on hunger. Are you hungry physically or emotionally? Unless you have a rumbling stomach and ate just a few hours ago, you are probably not hungry. Wait until the craving passes.
- Support is available. Those who lack a good support network are more likely to indulge in emotional eating. Ask for support from friends and family members. You can see how Perth Bariatrics Support Group can be an excellent outlet for you to talk about your issues with people who know what it’s like.
- Don’t get bored. Distract yourself from snacking when you’re not hungry and replace it with a healthier activity. Try taking a walk, watching a movie, playing with your cat, listening to music, reading, surfing the internet or calling a friend.
- Put an end to temptation. Stay away from comfort foods that are hard to resist. In addition, if you’re feeling angry or blue, postpone your trip to the grocery store until you’re feeling calmer.
- Make sure you don’t deprive yourself. You might limit calories too much when trying to lose weight, eat the same foods repeatedly, and banish treats when trying to lose weight. Your food cravings may be increased as a result, especially if you are emotional. Get plenty of variety to curb cravings, eat healthy portions, and enjoy an occasional treat.
- Eat healthy snacks. Choose a healthy snack such as fresh fruit, raw vegetables with low-fat dip, or nuts if you feel the urge to eat between meals. If you can’t satisfy your cravings with your favorite foods, try lower-calorie versions.
- Setbacks serve as learning opportunities. Feel free to forgive yourself the next day if you have an emotional eating episode. Make a plan to prevent this from happening again in the future based on what you learned from this experience. Think about the positive changes you’re making in your eating habits and give yourself credit for making them.
Seeking Professional Help When Necessary
A mental health professional may be able to help you if you’ve tried self-help but still can’t control emotional eating. Psychotherapy may help you learn how to cope with your emotional eating. Emotional eating can also be connected to eating disorders, which can be detected through therapy. You can also consult with a dietitian at Perth Surgical & Bariatrics.