Why It MattersEmotional eating can sabotage your weight management efforts. Getting a handle on your tendency to eat in response to emotions can be one of the most important factors in achieving long-term weight loss success.
What it IsSometimes, the desire to eat has nothing to do with a pesky rumbling in your stomach telling you that you need to eat. We get a strong longing for foods -- particularly fattening, comforting foods -- when emotions spike or plummet. We want to eat and (we think) nothing else will do.
How it HappensFor some, it takes a major event to trigger emotional eating -- getting fired or going through a divorce; for others, it's a constant struggle: the traffic on the way to work; the jammed photo copier; a tough day at the office ... the daily grind can lead to a seemingly unbreakable habit of turning to food to make it all better.
A Vicious CycleThe worst part about emotional eating is it actually causes your problems to multiply. Eventually, instead of avoiding the issues you're stuffing down with food, you've created another one altogether -- weight gain, guilt about eating, worsening health ... and then it starts all over again.
Five Steps to End Emotional EatingIf you tend to give in to emotional eating, there are a few tactics you can use to regain control of your eating habits and get back on track.
- Step One: Identify Your Triggers Learn How
- Step Two: Recognize Hunger Signals Learn How
- Step Three: Limit Trigger Foods Simply stop stocking your fridge and pantry with the foods you binge on.
- Step Four: Don't Skip Meals Skipping meals almost always leads to over-eating.
- Step Five: Create Alternatives to Eating Whether it's a bubble bath or curling up with a good book, planning other activities will help you relax and avoid binges.
Don't Give UpWhen you trip up -- because you will (We all do!), don't give up. Forgive yourself and start over the next day. Learning from your mistakes and focusing on the positive will go along way in ensuring your continued weight loss success.