Four Ways to Stop Emotional Eating and Be More Intuitive

As some point or another, we are all guilty of emotional eating.  Eating as a way to comfort an unpleasant feeling, whether it is brought on by a stressful day of work, a bad break-up, hormonal changes or simply because we are bored.  The problem with emotional eating is that it can become too comforting and too much of a habit, which can lead to weight gain or prevent weight loss if you’re not aware of it or intuitive to your eating habits.  There are ways to stop emotional eating, and prevent it from sabotaging your results for good.  Here are 4 ways, plus a few helpful tips to stop emotional eating and learn how to be intuitive to your hunger!

Recognize the Signs

Emotional eating can be triggered by stress, anger, sadness, anxiety or even boredom. It can also be brought on by changes in hormone levels, such as during PMS when estrogen levels raise. Stress can also bring on emotional eating.  Stress causes an increase in cortisol, which can impede your body from processing carbohydrates, but can also increase cravings for sugary foods.  Another sure-fire sign of emotional eating is when you reach for food even though you are physically not hungry.  If you are eating with less than 3 hours between meals, perhaps the reason is emotional not actual hunger.

Tip – Use a Food Journal  Start evaluating and assessing your hunger, use a food journal to write down where and when you eat and how you are feeling, notice if there are any patterns, are you physically hungry, are you low in energy, or mindlessly reaching for food? Do you feel guilty after you eat?  Are you craving anything specific sugary, salty, crunchy or creamy?  By tracking when, where and how much you are eating you will quickly be able to identify what is triggering your emotional eating and squash it with a healthy alternative.

Tip – Switch it Up  Craving something crunchy and salty?  Instead of reaching for a bag of chips, try a tablespoon of your favourite nut butter on a few celery sticks! Craving something sweet and creamy?  Instead of ice cream, try a serving of non-fat, zero calorie Greek yogurt combined with a few of your favorite berries, a packet of Stevia and a teaspoon of vanilla!   Craving chocolate or candy, try a piece of fruit!

Workout and Mediate

Once you recognize that you are emotional eating, the next step it to replace that habit with a new healthier one that can change your mindset and your focus.  By far the best way to combat emotional eating is to head to the gym!  Working out reduces stress by releasing feel good endorphins that actually decrease hunger and boost energy, not to mention burn calories.  Another way to shift your focus from food is to try mediation and simple breathing techniques.  Breathing exercises can slow down your heart rate; relax the mind and take your focus off of food.  Mediation and regular workouts can also help clear the mind.

Tip – Stick to a Schedule One of the best ways to keep your mind focused is to have a clear and defined schedule, and a set of goals.  Schedule workouts, yoga and even a little mediation and downtime for you.  This will help you stick with new habits and keep the balance in your life without letting emotions take over.

Stop Rewarding Yourself with Food

Many fitness minded individuals, might be considered chronic dieters by some, following strict clean diets during competition or bikini season, and rewarding themselves with cheat meals because of good behaviour.  This can lead to feelings of guilt if an unscheduled ‘cheat’ occurs, or come off-season, when ultra-restrictive diets usually get thrown to the side!  Dieting can deprive a person from their favourite foods, so when they hit an emotional wall or accomplish a big goal, they say forget this, and give into that food they have been craving the most.

Tip – Try a New Reward Instead of getting into the routine of rewarding yourself with food, start rewarding yourself with other treats, like a trip to the spa, a new workout top, or most women’s favorite thing a new pair of shoes.  Other ways to reward yourself, try a different workout from your regular routine or a different activity like indoor rock climbing.  It can be fun, take your mind off of food, and stimulate your muscles and your mind in a completely different manner.

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Manage Emotional Eating

If you know there are certain foods that can trigger an emotional outburst, the best thing to do is not buy them! Don’t have cookies, ice cream, chocolates, chips or whatever your emotional clutch is hanging around the kitchen.  It’s a recipe for disaster and a diet meltdown come your next stressful situation.  Be sure your diet is in check; often we crave foods as a result of lacking certain foods in our diet.  If carbohydrates are too low, energy and blood sugar levels will dip, along with serotonin levels. Also make sure you get plenty of protein, at least 1 g per pound of bodyweight, this satiating food can reduce hunger between meals.  Be sure to balance out your meals, eating every 3 hours, which will sustain blood sugar and help keep your metabolism moving along!

Tip – Convenient Healthy Options Despite your best efforts you may still want to feed the need!  Instead of filling yourself up with sugary and fatty junk food options, have healthy snacks available that are ready to grab at anytime, such as non-fat Greek yogurt, fruit, nuts, whole-grain rice cakes with beetroot hummus, a protein smoothie or even pre-made protein pancakes or protein bites!

Until Next Time,

Be Fierce & Rule the World!

Lauren Jacobsen


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