How to stop emotional eating
How This Helps
Need help with managing emotional & binge eating? Follow these simple steps
Did you know that underlying stress is the cause of binge eating causing excessive consumption of foods high in calories and low in nutritional value? What sets emotional eating apart from binge eating is the quantity of food consumed. Emotional eating is caused by several factors than a singular factor and is accompanied by a series of potential warning signals. Emotional eating is assessed by health professionals by screening mental as well as physical health
issues. Emotional eating can be overcome by learning healthier ways to look at food and inculcate ideal eating habits. Recognizing what triggers the behavior and developing more positive triggers holds the key to success.
Science and Research
A stressed individual watching a dull TV program tends to keep eating nearly anything he can find, maybe start with nuts, progress to cheese and later push down the throat anything they can lay hands on. Hunger is not the cause and eating is only an escape route for the stress. But the excessive calories that get into the body will unfailingly cause an imbalance leading to serious health issues.
What is emotional eating?
Different people define binge differently:
There is no hard definition of what represents binge eating. A modest snack, a lost weekend, and a few slices of bread are among the common definitions of binge eating. Binge eating is uncontrolled and unplanned and usually comes with a craving for some type of special food though the individual may end up consuming several types of food. When the urge for indulging in binge eating strikes, your better judgment is overtaken by a strong craving which also dictates the quantity you eat.
What causes emotional eating?
Fertile ground for binge eaters
A “bankrupt” environment presents the most fertile ground for binge eaters. Creative energies take a back seat because there is no opportunity to flourish. Most people are alone, saddened by a series of overwhelming thoughts, and generally, it is typically quiet all around. Household chores are further depressing and add to the loneliness. Some people are also affected by mood swings but most binge eating lasts several hours and could even be days in some cases.
Emotional eating in happy times too
Stress and mood swings are not the only reasons that encourage binge eating. Some people take to binge eating even to celebrate a happy moment, an event or another excuse that they can find. But, the negative impact of binge eating is not different from this group. Binge eating is humiliating and frightening for many and it is important that control measures are put in place quickly.
Plan to stop emotional eating
A good starting point
A good starting point to gain control over binge eating is to sit down calmly and analyze the process thoroughly. When do you start snacking and when does it turn to binge eating. Write down these events. When mood swing is identified as the main culprit, you are your own master and you must get to the root of the problem. One way you can fight mood swings is to undertake any activity that is distinct from what influences the binge eating. Physical exercise or yoga could be examples and if TV viewing is identified as the prompt, think of taking a long walk during that particular hour or find a new craft that can engage you physically and mentally. It is essential, however, that the new activity interests you and should not be thrown upon you.
Simple guide to stop emotional eating
Have a defense game plan
Remember that it takes time and a strong will to get out of binge eating. The urge to indulge in binging can come back haunting you after the first few days of hard effort. This is the time when you should have a strong defense plan in place. The following measures will help you with this defense plan.
Draw up new activities for stimulating the “down” times. Distraction is a great tool to help you win over the urge. If the TV is the culprit, turn off the TV and maybe play solitaire on your computer. Polishing your shoes, taking a shower, re-reading an interesting book or article are activities that will have a salutary effect. If you are closeted inside the house, go out or change the room – in other words, engage in something to distract you from anything that can get into your mouth.
2. The waiting game
Play the waiting game with binging. Ok, the urge is there and you have something ready in front of you to indulge. Now fold your hands and keep watching it for 10 minutes as though it is your enemy. Maybe, the craving will pass or allow a new distraction to take over. The idea is that the 10 minutes will inject plenty of self-confidence in you and you will begin to appreciate that you are in control.
3. Keep a healthy snack ready
Keep some bulky and chewable snack ready at hand and if that is something you don’t crave for particularly, that is even more helpful.
4. Stopping can be the easiest part
What you are doing at a particular moment in time will determine what follows. For instance, if you are couched in an easy chair, it is unlikely that you play ball the next minute. The trouble with most binge eaters is that one helping follows another and another. Instead, divide the snack into smaller portions and put the container back where it should normally be after taking out just one portion. Now walk away with the snack in your hand and sit down where you normally would. Once you finish with the small portion, walk into another room and engage in another activity. If the craving returns, repeat the same cycle. Over a few days of focused effort, snacking will become more laborious than it was making it easier for you to manage the behavior.
5. No Self-pitying
Many binge eaters add self-pitying to an already bruised condition. Simply understand binge as a minor error in the larger effort for self-management. Accepting that something has gone wrong and needs correction is the only important thing. Don’t skip your regular meal because you are still binge eating. That could perk up your craving and the results can be catastrophic.
Each of the above steps is important, but none more so than the last. How often in the past have you, or someone you know, used a binge as a reason to give up entirely? Realize that you’re human and that humans make mistakes. One mistake is a disaster only if you invite the worst to happen. Don’t let this happen to you. Stop such thoughts as soon as they arise so you won’t be lured into more and more distress.
People hooked on alcohol or narcotics have a mountain to climb, but at least there is a clear-cut solution
- avoid drink or drugs at all costs. Replicating that model with food addiction has fatal consequences. Instead, you have to find a way to live alongside your problem and manage it. You have to understand your own eating patterns, so the compulsive thoughts that once governed your days are kept at bay.
For all recovering bingers, two rules apply.
1) The first is the need to put as much time as possible between yourself and the last time you binged -because if I binge today, the urge to do it tomorrow and the next day and every day will be all-consuming. I can never buy multipacks of food because I'll eat everything immediately. And bread is best avoided because eight slices of toast is an easy snack.
2) The second is never to eat anything in secret. Secrecy is a prison of shame. Alcoholics Anonymous has a phrase for it: 'Secrets keep you sick.' For someone like me, who is single and lives alone, food sobriety means a lot of self-policing.
- I can eat a piece of cake, a couple of biscuits or some chocolate if I am offered it outside my home by others because that's ordinary social behavior. I can have a big meal in the company of others. That, too, is normal.
- It's when I'm alone that I have to watch it. So I can never buy cake, biscuits or confectionery myself. Not even a cereal bar, because I can't stop at one. If I eat one, I'll buy more and eat them all straight away.
- I can never buy multipacks of food because I'll eat everything immediately. And bread is best avoided because eight slices of toast is an easy snack.
- I can't eat in my car because that was once a favorite bingeing place. Often I'd eat the huge amounts of food I bought on the brief drive home from the supermarket. For nine years I followed the rules of food sobriety. Yet here I was at 51, overwhelmed by the hideous instincts again, powerless to do anything but binge.
Follow the simple steps I have outlined above and good luck!
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