We’ve all been in that situation. Emotional eating first pushes us to try out a handful of baby carrots before we are ready to reach out to a few slices of cheese. And the next thing you know is that you are eating a huge pint of ice cream!
It’s quite a familiar scenario because we all face it in our lives. Before we even know it, we are already munching on a treat in our mouth, which is instantly giving us a strong feeling of satisfaction, calmness, and gratification. Unfortunately, that rush of euphoria is only short-lived, and soon you are back to your old self – emotionally broken and stressed out!
You are trapped in a cycle that takes off from stress to emotional eating, to temporary satisfaction, to guilt, and then back to stress. And it seems almost impossible to stop the cycle, especially because we crave junky, sugary foods when we are down.
Such foods help us reduce the cortisol hormone of stress in our body for the time being and bring us peace. Once that temporary hard-wiring comes under pressure, the stress hormone rises again and brings us back to our previous state. It also messes up with your mood and behavior.
So what do you do in that situation? Give up? No!
The key is to use tips and strategies that snap you into reality and help you identify emotional eating. These six strategies we share here will not only help you with a stress-induced craving to eat but also bring back real satisfaction when you eat.
These simple tricks are real anxiety killers. Try them out now!
Don’t hide your feelings
Instead of abandoning your feelings, focus on the real issue. We often use ‘ignorance’ as an escape when our emotions go awry. Admitting there’s a problem, identifying factors, and finding a solution to those problems is the only way you can feel better.
Overindulging in sugar foods can create a temporary softening, numbing effect on your unwanted feelings but it wouldn’t help you with the stress. Stop fighting those emotions. It’s OK to feel sad, mad, tired, or scared. Negative emotions are natural and happen to everyone.
Approach your negative feelings with a positive mindset and stop yourself from turning to food for comfort.
Become more mindful
Mindless eating can ruin your health which is why you must change your eating habits.
According to a study published in the Journal of Obesity, women who considered mindful eating seriously could naturally handle stress well. Some even underwent detailed mindfulness training, which included the learning of recognizing real hunger, stress-reduction techniques, and taste identification.
Being more mentally present in the situation will help you recognize your feelings to help you fight off the urge of binging on a sugary or junky treat.
Go for a walk
When boredom or stress urges you to eat, get up and go for a walk. It is best if you can go outdoors and keep yourself away from the kitchen and/or pantry.
Diverting your mind by distancing yourself from food and snacks can help you curb that feeling of hunger. Walking is an efficient exercise, which helps release endorphins in our body and improves our mood. Last but not the least, going out for a walk will also give you a chance to breathe in the fresh air, which also naturally helps reduce stress.
Discover your triggers and be prepared
The best way to strategize your food when stressed is to identify your triggers. If you eat more when you are feeling lonely, just grab a diary or journal and write about how you feel. You can even speak to a family member or a friend to distract your mind.
Discovering the triggers can also help you stay prepared for such craving episodes. Stock your pantry with healthy, delicious foods, so regardless of what you reach out for, it will be healthy.
Eat at the right time
We often eat more when we skip our regular meals. Our system feels deprived and demands food. Since we are also stressed out and sad, sugar and junk food become our best bet. At that point, it is hard to avoid.
Being stressed on an empty stomach is the worst state ever. If you fill yourself up with delicious, healthy meals on time during the day, there will be less space for you to fit in plenty of snacks.
If all else fails… Moderate approach
Sometimes, forcing yourself not to eat isn’t the best option. When you are in a mental state where thinking and making choices becomes difficult, put your entire focus on how to keep your approach moderate.
If all else fails, eat whatever comforts you and makes you feel better. The only thing you should be mindful of is the quantity of the food you are eating. Instead of grabbing food right away, sit and relax and taste the treats you have been craving so bad.
Keep your approach moderate and eat meals in smaller quantities to avoid overindulgence.
Identifying stress-eating and triggers associated with the feeling are the initial steps you must take to control the condition. Once you know the pattern at which your brain works when you are stressed out, plan everything accordingly. If you can’t control stress eating, use a HIPAA-compliant telemedicine platform to seek help from a licensed dietician or nutritionist.
Change your lifestyle habits and stock up on healthier foods. The healthier snack ideas you eat, the less likely you will suffer from stress eating.