How to Prevent Emotional Eating
Updated March 24, 2010
Woman binging on junk food.
Emotional eating, compulsive eating or food addictions are all essentially the same thing. It’s a way of using food as a management tool to face your feelings and emotions. Emotional eaters use food as a way to self-sooth, irrelevant of the actual emotions themselves. It often takes years to learn the skill of emotional eating and can take just as long to unlearn. A learned behavior is very often difficult to break but it is very possible to do it. Remember, it may take a long time and require you to dig inside yourself to understand the true reasons that you eat for comfort.
If you have both the time and finances, a qualified therapist may be the answer to helping you overcome emotional eating. A therapist is a great way to uncover the origins of your feelings and will help guide you through this difficult time. Because it can be quite expensive, many people tend to avoid this route. Remember though, a qualified therapist will have experience and the know-how to help you through it.
Self help is usually the number one option to preventing and overcoming emotional eating. The best form of self help is through the use of a food journal. It may sound tedious, but it actually works. Your subconscious cannot trick your conscious mind any longer when you have to be responsible to yourself for what you are eating. The use of a food journal requires patience for you to teach yourself how to cope under emotional situations. Write down how you feel throughout the day when you have the craving to eat. Document your entire emotional situation – whether you are bored, angry, hurt or sad – so that you can find patterns in how you eat. Also, make sure to write how you feel after you eat. This is equally as important as how you felt before and will help you link your emotions to your foods.
Going down the path of self help requires honesty. You will only overcome the problem when you completely understand why you do what you do. When you come to the conclusion that you eat because you’re lonely and food makes you feel like you have a friend, you can create a plan of action that directly relates to your emotional state. Next time you get the same feelings of loneliness; you can call a friend for a chat and see if that alleviates the feelings and changes your hunger cues.
No matter which way to choose to go, remember that you can overcome emotional eating with hard work and love for yourself.