What does emotional eating mean to you? You may be surprised that it does not mean eating just when you are sad or upset. Emotional eating can happen out of stress, boredom, habit, and celebration just to name a few. I don't know about you but I can't think of a more perfect storm of emotions these past few weeks than the Philadelphia Eagles winning the Super Bowl and then watching THE episode of This Is Us all in the same day. Talk about a roller coaster of emotions!! Now that the excitement has died down a bit, it got me thinking about a lot of the clients that I see every week who deal with this type of eating. In my opinion, this may be one of the hardest obstacles to tackle when dealing with weight loss. The trick is in essence rewiring your brain to think about doing other things rather than reach for food when you are dealing with stress, boredom, anxiety, etc. Here are a few tips.....
1. Pause - Set a timer for 5 minutes before you reach for a food item when stressed. Remember, we are trying to change a behavior here. If after those 5 minutes you still eat that food item, that's ok. At least you stopped to think before you ate.
2. Have a list of things to do - think of 5 things you could do, 5 places you could go, or 5 people you could contact. Hopefully doing one of these things will distract you and help you forget about your craving.
3. Have a stable blood sugar - Make sure you are eating every 3-4 hours to avoid those dips in blood sugars, this is when those cravings can set in.
4. Awareness - Keeping a food journal may help you identify when and where you emotionally eat. Once you have identified this, it is easier to come up with a plan to avoid in the future.
5. Practice - You can't expect these changes to happen over night, you must practice this daily and be patient with yourself. Remember these are years worth of habits you are trying to break and it won't happen overnight.