Do you feel like you have a never-ending battle with the scale? Are you tired of gaining weight that stays with you forever? The cause of your weight gain could be tied emotional overeating.
What is emotional overeating?
Emotional overeating is a complex topic, but it has essential elements that are easy to recognize.
Emotional overeating is defined as disordered eating that is characterized by the compulsion to eat even if you’re full. It tends to be a response to negative emotions or thoughts. It’s also seen as a coping strategy for those who are under stress or who have suffered abuse.
Food often provides comfort for emotional eaters. That is, that satiated feeling of being “full,” or consuming “comfort food.” But the comfort is only temporary! Emotional overeating can sabotage your diet and weight-loss goals. It can also negatively affect your health.
Luckily, there are easy steps you can take today to stop emotional overeating!
Try these strategies:
- Figure out your triggers. In many cases, emotional overeating is triggered by an event, thought, or feeling.
- If you can figure out your triggers, then it will be easier to take control of them and stop them from encouraging you to overeat.
- The most common triggers are stress and negative emotions. Other triggers can be difficult days at work, fights with your family or spouse, and issues with friends or coworkers.
- Therapy may also help you deal with your triggers.
- Try to eat only when you’re truly hungry. Teach your body to accept food only when you’re really hungry instead of viewing it as a constant source of comfort. Hungry means when your stomach physically growls or rumbles.
- This step will take time because changing your eating habits is challenging. However, you can take small steps to make dietary modifications. Learn to listen to your body and pay attention to real hunger pangs.
- When you “think” you’re hungry, drink 8 oz of water — you could be dehydrated!
- Eat calmly and modestly, stopping when you feel that first deep breath you need to take, as if to make more room — you’re done! Also, no “second helpings.” Remember, food is fuel ONLY.
- Explore intermitent fasting, to help keep yourself in-check!
- Create alternative plans. For example, if you know that you overeat after a difficult meeting at work each week, then plan ahead and try to prevent it. Try substituting a more positive action that also brings you comfort or reduces your stress.
- By creating alternative plans that don’t involve eating, you will be setting yourself up for diet success.
- For example, you can plan a long walk or gym workout after work to get rid of stress. Instead of turning to your fridge and ice cream after an argument, you can binge watch your favorite TV shows or get on the phone with a friend.
- The key is to find other ways to deal with stress and negative emotions.
- Surround yourself with people who care. One of the main reasons many people turn to emotional overeating is because they feel like they don’t have a support network. Do you feel alone and isolated?
- Reach out to family, friends, coworkers, and others for help.
- Build a strong support network around you that can help you deal with negativity and stress. Find those whom you can call or visit without worrying that you’re intruding or upsetting them. In turn, be open to offering them support, too.
- Explain to friends or loved ones about emotional overeating so they can understand why you overeat. Discuss effective techniques that can motivate you to stick to a diet or exercise plan. They can remind you of these techniques when you need help, without being authoritarian or critical, to help you get back on track.
Emotional overeating doesn’t have to control your life. You can fight it and overcome it with these easy strategies and healthier coping mechanisms. Don’t let food rule your existence!