Combating Emotional Eating: How Not to ‘Feed’ Your Feelings

By Rebecca Lewis on November 14, 2013

It’s a fact that food could bring us comfort. There’s no wonder why many of us resort to emotional eating in times of distress. But food is not intended to satisfy our emotional needs, but our physical health. Emotional eating, or the practice of consuming large quantities of food, is not a good approach to deal with stress and negative experiences. Rather, it can worsen the problem, and may lead to anxiety, guilt feelings, poor self-esteem, depression, and uh-oh – weight gain.

If you are guilty of comfort eating, don’t feel sad and discouraged. Many people are guilty of it too. What you can do for now is to focus on the bright side of life and learn some great coping strategies to overcome it. We’ve got some good tips for you:

Identify your triggers. The first step to combat emotional eating is to get a clearer understanding of when it happens. Maybe you tend to eat more when you are tired, feeling exhausted, stressed, and so on. It can be helpful to keep a journal of your eating habits so you can easily identify what events and situations are triggering your to binge-eat.

Stand still, it will subside. It’s true that dealing with negative emotions can be very tormenting and energy-draining that you would really want to find a ‘quick fix’ for them. But remember that these emotions will subside. Knowing this is going to help you develop the ability to tolerate it. Experiencing the negative emotions as they come is not that easy but they can actually help you better understand yourself and the real issues you are dealing with in life.

Remember, too much of everything can be dangerous. You eat to satisfy your stomach and supply your body with the nutrients they need to function properly. By resorting to comfort eating, you are giving the food a power that’s way beyond what it’s supposed to do. This can impair your health, especially if you choose unhealthy foods (which what usually happens during comfort eating). If you’re like most people, you choose fatty, sugary and calorie-dense foods to ward off unwanted emotions. All these can have fatal effect on your health, and increase your risk of stroke, heart disease, obesity and diabetes, among others.

Find a better substitute. Eliminating a negative habit might require learning a positive one. There are many stress-coping mechanisms that you can substitute for food. They include deep breathing, meditating, dancing, exercising and the like. Another healthy coping strategy is talking to a friend or a therapist. A professional therapist can teach you new skills to deal with stress, anger and other negative emotions.

Emotional eating might give you temporary comfort but its consequences simply outweigh its benefits. By learning to identify your triggers, being aware of your emotions, and dealing with your stressors using healthy coping strategies, you can overcome emotional eating as well as the driving force(s) behind it.

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