Stress eating, which is also popular as emotional eating, is consuming food in response to your feelings, not hunger. In simple words, emotional eating means that your emotions — not your body — dictate when and how much you eat. Eating which devours for reasons other than physical hunger is quite a challenge for people who are striving to lose weight.
Aside from emotions like sadness, anger, and boredom; stress is the most common trigger for emotional eaters, and that’s the reason it is usually referred to as stress eating.
During this trying time of COVID-19, when people are being stuck at home to maintain self-isolation, the chances of emotional eating are high. Because of both stress or boredom. And you are an emotional eater too, if any of the following eating reasons sounds familiar to you:
- I was steaming over a fight with my partner, so I ate some ice cream to cool down my emotions.
- Since I was feeling anxious about a meeting with my boss; I drank a full cup of hot chocolate.
- I was feeling bored, So I sat on the couch and mindlessly munched through an entire bag of chips, even though I was full.
When negative emotions threaten to trigger emotional eating, there are strategies that you can apply to tackle eater’s remorse. To help stop emotional eating, try these 3 easy T’s steps:
1. Track down the root cause
One of the most helpful ways to prevent it is to understand why it’s happening. Try to know your triggers. Identify the circumstances and emotions that lead you to emotional-eat. Check-in with yourself to learn whether you’re eating because of hunger, or just because you are anxious, sad, happy, or bored.
Before you eat, pay special attention to how you’re feeling. Keep notes on what you eat and how you felt when you ate it. Also, write about the environment and the people were with you when you ate. These may provide clues to your triggers. And, once you recognize your triggers, you can easily take intuitively to tackle them or at least be prepared for them.
If your triggers include conditions like chronic stress, long-term anger, depression, and other concerns. You may also take enjoyment in counseling, stress management, exercise, and other techniques to extinguish the root cause of emotional eating.
2. Take away temptation
Having a jar full of tempting foods like cookies or colorful candy on the front may add visual appeal to your kitchen, but this practice may cause fulfilling your emotional-eating carvings. This practice can also lead to frequent snacking, which is not good for your health.
According to the study, that visual exposure to high-calorie foods stimulates the striatum, (a part of your brain that modulates impulse control) which may lead to increased cravings. For this reason, it’s best to keep tempting foods out of sight, and out of your reach. So when you don’t have a giant bag of chips at your fingertips, you can’t eat the entire bag.
3. Try a pre-planned healthy alternative
For some people, eating can be a way to avoid thinking about their problems, but for most people, it is a way to get comfortable. The research has shown that the least healthy foods usually offer the most comfort. It’s the high-fat, high-calorie foods we love the most that make us feel better. That’s the reason people don’t turn to veggies when they’re feeling stressed.
So, after determining the emotional eating triggers, and taking away tempting food out; It is now time to plan some healthier alternatives for you to prevent eating for emotional reasons. Here are some tips which can help:
- If stress, anger, or sadness trigger your sweet tooth, make yourself a healthy bowl of sweet fruit.
- If you crave salty chips; roasted chickpeas are great crunchy alternatives with protein and fiber.
- After a busy day of work, make yourself a cup of hot herbal tea to calm yourself.