6 ways to combat emotional eating to keep your diet on track!
1. Identify stressful situations that trigger an urge to eat. The only way to really see what our patterns are is to be able to be internally calm enough to watch them happen rather than being in the middle of acting them out. We have to learn to pause so that we can decide how to best handle a moment of stress instead of just doing what we always do – which is often unhealthy. Once you’ve identified your patterns and triggers, you can be more mindful in these situations so you can minimize the temptation to use food as a way of coping with stress and other emotions. If you’re more prone to stress eat when you’re studying alone in your room, go to the library or cafe.
2. Ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” Every time you reach for food, ask yourself how physically hungry you are on a scale from one to ten. Six to ten means you’re probably physically hungry, but any low numbers should raise a red
flag. Unlike physical hunger, emotional hunger comes on suddenly, causes cravings for specific comfort foods, isn’t located in the stomach and often leads to mindless eating and post-consumption feelings of guilt. Measuring out a healthy snack to keep on hand, or an herbal tea can help. The best time to eat is when your stomach feels fairly empty but not hurting with hunger pangs. By eating before you feel signals like irritability and light-headedness, you’ll be able to ward off those stress-eating habits.
3. Choose your foods wisely. Don’t fall into the sugar or ‘comfort-food’ trap to cope with stress. Do you best, but don’t get bogged down with the stress. You will get through this. But if you really have to eat, try going for some fruit instead of munching on extra-sugary sweets. Empty calories like chips and cookies don’t give your brain the fuel it needs to get through your day. Try instead mandarin oranges, which are low in calories, will satisfy your sweet tooth, and keep your hands busy. Peeling the orange and smelling the scent can also be calming on your frazzled nerves, while vitamin C in the fruit will help strengthen your body’s immune system in a time of stress. Craving salty and crunchy? Try keeping some nuts and seeds around. Pistachios are packed with fiber and healthy fats. They also regulate your blood sugar, so you won’t experience the dreaded crash after a sugar high like you would with fatty, sugary foods. And – don’t keep junk food around.
4. Take a breath. Allow your mind to wander off the immediate stressor, and bring your mind gently back to the feeling of breathing in and breathing out. A quick breathing exercise is a great, healthy way to clear your mind.
5. Have a spot of tea. Black tea in particular is known to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone that can cause weight gain.
6.Exercise. Physical activity really does wonders! It lifts your mood, generates energy, and reduces stress. Walking is especially good for conquering stress eating because you’ll have some time to work through your problems and practice moving meditation. It can also help you refocus your mind on your health goals.