Control Emotional Eating
14th June 2023

Control Emotional Eating

Do you feel the urge to eat certain foods when stressed but not necessarily hungry? Do you find comfort in food when you’re anxious or bored?

Strange but true, emotions not just affect your mood but also your appetite. Stress, sadness, depression, frustration and anxiety can trigger food cravings. Most of us turn to food to cope with stress and feel better. Such eating to satiate your emotions or feelings and find comfort is termed Emotional Eating or Comfort Eating.

When we eat what we like, our brain releases a feel-good hormone ‘dopamine’. This is the reason we’re tempted to eat more junk food to get this immediate ‘wave of happiness’. However, this feeling is short-lived and can lead to fatigue due to overeating, guilt for lacking self-control and embarrassment later on.

According to researchers, most overeating is caused by emotions which often turns into a habit than anything else. Therefore, overcoming emotional eating is important so that you don’t rely on food to unknowingly cope. Here are some tips to control emotional eating:

Practice mindful eating

Being mindful of what you eat helps you maintain a healthy relationship with food. Whenever stress triggers food cravings instead of reaching out to a box of cookies or packet of fried chips, you can go in for healthy options. This’ll help you maintain control over choices, better connect with food and appreciate it.

Introspect before eating

Try checking in with yourself before you eat. Initially it can be hard to differentiate whether you’re eating due to hunger or in response to your emotions. Simply asking yourself ‘Am I really hungry or is it an underlying feeling behind my urge to eat?’ can help you resist the temptation of overeating and prevent you from ingesting junk food.

Fulfill hunger cues only

When emotions start dictating when/what to eat, you begin ignoring your real hunger cues. You need to stay attuned to your body’s needs and only when you truly experience sensations of hunger should you eat, and that too wholesome meals.

Find other coping mechanisms

If you notice that you always hog under stress, it’s the stress you need to pay attention to. Think about other ways to de-stress such as taking a stroll in nature, listening to music, reading a book or journaling your emotions. By engaging in such other activities, you distract your mind from thinking about food.

Follow a meal schedule

Eating your meals regularly at a planned time (about every 3-4 hours) can help you curb hunger. Whenever stress in you sets off a desire to eat think that your next scheduled meal is only half an hour away. This’ll help you avoid sudden food distractions and enjoy your food on time.

By following these simple tips, you can find your balance and cultivate a positive relationship with food.

Alvina Clara, Content Writer, emQube

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