Could stress, boredom, or self-pity be sabotaging your health and your ability to fit into your skinny jeans?
What is emotional eating?
Ever find yourself eating a whole plate of chocolate chip cookies, when you only meant to have one? Or downing a basket of chips and guacamole with your margarita, even though you weren’t hungry when you went to happy hour? Have you been surprised to find the bowl of popcorn you were munching on while you watched TV mysteriously empty, even though you ate your dinner just before you plopped down on the couch?
All of those scenarios involved emotional eating – filling your belly for reasons other than hunger. Unlike eating to stop the growling in your tummy, emotional eating generally involves unhealthy foods.
Many times, stress will lead to emotional eating. Stress causes a spike in insulin, which can cause you to crave sugary foods, like cookies, chocolate, and candy. Stress also taxes your adrenal glands, which robs your body of minerals, and can cause you to crave salt. Of course, if you give in and indulge in sugary or salty foods too often, soon your favorite new jeans won’t fit anymore, causing more stress…which leads to more emotional eating, etc. You get the picture and it’s not a pretty one.
How to beat the urge
Rather than reaching for comfort foods, there are ways to deal with your issues:
Figure out what the issue is that is causing the emotional urge to eat. If you are bored, stressed, or depressed, all of those issues can be helped with exercise. It will keep you occupied, relieve stress, and give you an endorphin rush that will help boost your serotonin level and mood. And it will help you lose pounds instead of packing them on!
Drink water. Drinking a glass of water can fill you up, curb cravings and will do a body good. Nothing helps hydrate skin more than water.
Stock the cupboards with healthy food. If you eat more fruits and veggies, your body will tend to crave those instead of junk, even if you are eating for emotional reasons. If you down a bowl of grapes while watching your favorite reality show, at least it won’t cause feelings of guilt the next day.
Practice Gratitude. It is impossible to entertain a negative thought and a positive one simultaneously. When you are stressed, bored, or feeling negative, think of a dozen things you are grateful for. Even if that big project at work feels overwhelming, you can feel grateful to have a job and a paycheck and the IQ to complete the project.
Don’t give up. We all have setbacks from time to time. Just because you fall off the wagon and eat a cupcake, it doesn’t mean you need to eat a dozen. Tomorrow is a new day. We all have good ones and bad ones, but the more you pay attention to your feelings and reasons for eating, the more you can control your reaction to your situation, and what you put into your mouth.