Are you an emotional eater? Here's what to do...
The honest truth is that we ALL emotionally eat. We eat during times of happiness, sadness, boredom, anxiousness and frustration but there is a fine line between emotionally eating sometimes and having these habits sabotage your healthy lifestyle on a regular basis. I do get it though. I still have to bring a real mindfulness to my eating when I have had a hard day. All too often I used to find myself with a spoon of peanut butter in my hand when I was stressed not even realizing I was eating! But with practice, focus and repetition - I have learned to change these unhealthy patterns.
If emotional eating holds you back from reaching your health and weight loss goals, we need to take a deeper dive to break this pattern once and for all!
Not sure if you’re an emotional eater? Here are a few behaviours to look out for:
Eating frequently when you are not hungry
Turning to food during times of stress
Continuing to eat even when you are full
Feeling "out of control" when eating
Binge eating large portions of unhealthy food
Regular late-night snacking (most people start off their day well only not to finish it as well!)
Recurrent thoughts about food
Self-sabotaging your weight loss attempts
The first thing to do is take a closer look at your eating habits and bring consciousness back to the way you are eating – the fancy term for this is intuitive eating. Intuitive eating basically means eating only when you recognize legitimate hunger cues and stopping eating when you feel satisfied. It happens all too often that we try to finish every last bite on our plates or go up for seconds when in fact if we took a minute to listen to our bodies, it would be very clear that we are already full.
How to break the pattern of emotional eating
In order to eat with a sense of awareness, be sure to pause when you feel hungry and think about how you are feeling. Ask yourself these few questions:
- Am I truly hungry or am I feeling something else - Stress? Lack of sleep? Anxiety? Sadness? Boredom?
- When was the last time I had a meal or snack? - This will help cue you to think about how many hours it has been between meals.
- What could be better for me than food right now? - Exercise? A nature walk? Sleep? A good book?
- Am I eating out of hunger or out of habit?
- Will I feel better or worse after eating this in 10 minutes?
Try these steps to practice intuitive eating
- Do not take the entire bag of food with you to the table. Portion out your serving on a plate, take a minute to look at your food and then sit down and mindfully eat. This way you are not tempted to keep reaching back into the bag or container for seconds when you may not need it.
- Do not skip meals – this will throw off your hunger cues and will lead to overindulgence down the road.
- Eat until you feel about 80% full. It takes time for our brains to realize that we are full so do not eat until you feel stuffed.
- Take small sips of water between each bite as you eat.
- Chew your food thoroughly and take breaths between each bite to slow down your eating time.
- Make sure you have enough protein per meal. For some of my favourite protein rich snacks, click here.
- Keep a food journal. In addition to recording what you are eating - write down how you are feeling. This will help you pick up any pattern that may need to be shifted.
Emotional eating is a problem that a lot of us face and professional advice can be very helpful to break this habit once and for all. To schedule an appointment with our holistic nutritionists to discuss your eating habits and develop a personalized plan to reach your weight loss goals, call Shulman Health & Weight Loss at (905) 889-5326 today.