overcoming emotional eating habits

A good majority of people consciously or unconsciously turn to food for comfort whenever they are undergoing any difficult or stressful situations. Thus, most people find themselves engaging in unhealthy eating habits at their weakest point emotionally.

Emotional eating is therefore simply the tendency of an individual getting involved in unhealthy eating habits due mostly to the mood they are in at the moment. There are a lot of reasons that can be attributed to why people engage in emotional eating, food cravings or overeating. Emotional eating is therefore perhaps the biggest obstacle to any individual’s weight loss effort.

Like all other unhealthy habits, emotional eating or food craving is a problem that is most effectively handled through first understanding emotional eating itself i.e. what is it that is actually causing you to engage in this habit and then taking appropriate measures to handle it.

So, let’s look at some lifestyle measures you can start implementing to help you overcome your emotional eating tendency.

Always Eat a Healthy Breakfast

You need to start your day with a healthy breakfast of healthy lean protein foods and high-fiber carbohydrates to give you enough calories to meet your energy needs. Breakfast will help you to keep your cravings under control as you are more likely to feel fuller.

Eat More Small Meals More Frequently

Split your regular 3 daily meals into about 5-6 smaller healthy and balanced meals in terms of calorie and value. Also try as much as possible to eat on a precise schedule. This strategy of reducing the quantity of your individual meals and spacing them throughout the day at scheduled intervals will help you to more easily curb the tendency to eat emotionally since you instinctively know that your next meal is just around the corner. Additionally, you are also more likely to feel less hungry throughout the day.

Snack Healthily

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If you know the particular type of foods that you easily crave after, then to counter the craving for it, you need to find a healthy replacement for it. When giving up on a “bad” habit, the best way to get lasting result is to find a better replacement for it that will give you almost the same or even more amount of pleasure as the one you are trying to give up.

So instead of that fat-rich potato chips you are craving for, you can try fat-free or unbuttered popcorn, fresh fruits, or a delectable vegetable. Look for and experiment with alternative healthy food as replacement for the ones you regularly crave after. Nobody said it will be easy, so you have to make a deliberate effort here and you can be sure it will pay off.

Don’t Stock Unhealthy Foods at Home

Stocking a lot of high-calorie comfort foods like chips and fries around the house can be very tempting and indeed you could just be “playing with fire”. Also avoid going on grocery shopping when you are hungry so as to avoid shopping based on your mood. Go shopping only when you have recently eaten and are full and shop for healthy foods alone so that whenever you have an emotional trigger to eat, you can snack on your stock of healthy foods.

Look for Alternative Comfort Means

While food may be one the best comforters around, there’s no doubt that there are equally other things you like doing that you can use to substitute this craving whenever it happens. You can seek comfort by watching one of your favorite movies, calling a friend to talk to as a distraction, taking a walk, listening to your favorite music or reading a good book.

Break and Re-Condition Your Thought Patterns

You need to stop labeling food as either good or bad but instead understand that all you need to do is to control the amount of calories you consume on a daily basis. What does food mean to you and why do you eat? Is it a means for you to feel happy or to get energy to replenish yourself.

You need to deliberately condition yourself to break this emotional eating habit by asking yourself quality questions that can help you develop a good leverage on yourself on why you should avoid giving in to your food cravings.

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When you eat most times is it because you are really hungry? When next you feel this craving, stop for a second and ask yourself if you are really hungry or just want to pump some more calories into your already over-stuffed system? Break your thinking pattern immediately the urge springs up, distraction yourself by asking yourself questions and honestly answering them. Ask yourself what giving in to this urge will cost you in the long term with regards to what your general outlook about whom you really are and who you want to be.

You should bear in mind that modifying this behavior will take time coupled with some degree of determination and patience on your part. Once you’ve known what is triggering you to eat emotionally, decide on a measure you sincerely believe can work and then start working on it. Focus on the positive changes you are making along the way and give yourself some credit while maintaining a positive outlook on achieving your set goal.

Whenever you give in to your cravings, do yourself a favor and honestly forgive yourself. Instead of concentrating on your failings, try to focus more on the little day by day improvements you are making by crediting yourself on their achievements and making extra commitment to improving on your last best efforts. Learn from your experiences and make plans on how to overcome these shortcomings in the future. Keep conditioning and reinforcing whichever measure you determined to use and remember that “practice makes perfect.”

You have the power to make cravings an exception instead of the rule when it comes to your eating habits. Therefore, try to develop a lifestyle of regularly selecting and eating healthy meals and snacks to help control your cravings.