Do you struggle with emotional eating? If you do, you are NOT alone!!! This is probably the #1 thing I hear about when ladies are struggling with their weight loss. If you DO struggle with emotional eating, I wanted to give you a few tips to help you overcome it and reach your weight loss goals effortlessly!
First of all, what IS emotional eating? Let’s distinguish physical hunger from emotional eating.
Physical hunger is having a great need for food and/or a severe lack of food. It’s an uncomfortable feeling in your stomach caused by the need for food, which causes a strong desire to eat something. It’s important to note that hunger does not have a palette, meaning when you’re physically hungry, ANY food will do.
Emotional eating is using food to make yourself feel better. In this case, you’re eating to fill emotional needs rather than fill an empty stomach. It’s important to note that emotional eating fills up a DIFFERENT kind of empty. Ways that people eat emotionally might be using food as a reward, to celebrate, when you’re upset, lonely, stressed, angry, exhausted, or bored.
So before you eat something, it’s important that you stop and ask yourself if you’re truly hungry? Or are you engaging in emotional eating?
Here are even more ways to help you distinguish between and emotional eating and physical hunger:
- Emotional hunger typically leads to mindless eating. Have you ever sat down to eat with a bag of chips and ate the entire thing without really paying attention to it or even enjoying it?
- Emotional hunger isn’t located in the stomach. So instead of a growling belly or stomach pangs, you feel your hunger as a craving you can’t get out of your head. You’re focused on specific tastes, smell, or textures.
- Emotional hunger isn’t satisfied once you’re full. You keep wanting more and more, until you’re uncomfortably full.
- Emotional hunger often leads to guilt, shame, or regret. When you eat to satisfy physical hunger, you’re unlikely to feel guilty or ashamed because you’re just giving your body what it needs. So if you do feel guilty after you eat, it’s likely because you know that you’re not eating because your body physically needs food.
- Physical hunger doesn’t need to be stuffed. You feel satisfied when your stomach is full and you stop eating.
- With physical hunger, you’re usually more self-aware of what you’re eating.
- Physical hunger comes on gradually, while emotional eating usually feels urgent.
- When you’re physically hungry, pretty much any food will sound good, which includes healthy food like vegetables and fruits, while emotional hunger craves specific fatty or sugary foods that provide an instant rush. You feel like you NEED a burger or brownies, and nothing else will do.
It’s important to identify when you’re truly hungry versus feeling emotionally empty.
These are the signs of emotional eating:
- Do you eat when you’re not hungry or already full?
- Do you eat more when you feel stressed?
- Is food considered a reward to you?
- Do you eat to feel better when you’re mad, bored, sad, or anxious?
- Does food alter your mood?
- Do you eat until you feel stuffed?
- Do you feel powerless or out of control around food?
So to recap, physical hunger stops when you feel full, and emotional hunger goes unsatisfied well after your belly is full. You don’t feel guilty when you eat to satisfy what your body needs. Emotional hunger craves specific foods.
So if you eat emotionally, how do you CHANGE your behavior?
Here are some Tips to Stop Emotional Eating:
There are a lot of different ways, but let’s start with one that you can implement TODAY.
Changing emotional eating habits starts with feeling a sense of control and empowered in the moment. There are a lot of things in our lives we don’t have control over, where we feel powerless over the outcome or powerless to get our needs met, so we become dependent on others to decide our outcome.
Rescheduling is the technique we are going to discuss today, because there are a lot of things we CAN reschedule. We give ourselves permission to put off things until a later time. When we do this, we are reminded that we have CHOICES and we feel EMPOWERED in the process, rather than deprived, like we feel in most diets.
If you knew that you could reschedule something and come back to it later, and not lose anything in doing so, would you feel relieved? When we reschedule something we understand that it means we don’t need to do it right now, but we CAN do it later without experiencing a loss.
Having the reminder that we have choices without a consequence lowers the worry, fear, anxiety, and the feelings and emotions that cause us to impulsively eat in the first place.
The goal is to avoid feeling punished in the process. Because eating healthy and treating your body right is a treat—diets are punishment.
So let’s start rescheduling moments in which you feel the need to eat emotionally. No one is going to take away your chocolate or chips. I just want to give you a sense of experiencing the reward that comes with waiting and still receiving what you need, which will give you that sense of control that you’re seeking in this process of change.
- Identify the trigger. What happened just before you noticed your sudden cravings? What were you thinking about?
- Identify the feeling/emotion. What were you feeling?
- Reschedule the food craving. Reschedule for 2 hours from now, and if you still feel the need, have it! Make yourself a promise that you can indulge in two hours if you still need to and it’ll be ok.
- Replace the food with an alternate comfort source. What else can you use to self-soothe or comfort to counter and acknowledge the feelings you’re experiencing while waiting? Engage in a healthier behavior that makes you feel amazing, knowing that two hours from now you can go back and have that food.
You’ve rescheduled your appointment to eat and when the two hours is over, ask yourself if you truly still want it. And if the need to indulge in the same way is still there, give yourself permission to do so.
Rescheduling is great because this is your opportunity to experience a sense of control, while learning to tolerate the emotions that prompt emotional eating and also what it feels like to self-soothe in a healthier way, without feeling a sense of loss.
We don’t want to add to that emotional emptiness, rather learn that we can respond to it differently and feel just as good, if not better in these healthier ways than what food would otherwise temporarily provide us.
Try this exercise knowing that what you love to eat and the comfort you find in certain foods won’t be taken away from you, rather you’ll simply learn that you have choices. Empowering, isn’t it?!
If you know you struggle with emotional eating and you want my help in a small intimate group setting, with private video chats, one on one coaching from me, the tools you need to reach your goals, and MORE, be sure to apply to my Love Yourself Challenge. Spots are filling up, so hurry!! NO MORE DIETS—we are here to help you be lean and healthy for life!!
Comment below: Do you struggle with emotional eating? Will you try the rescheduling technique?
Did this help you? If so, I would really appreciate it if you comment below and share on Facebook!
“Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.” Tony Robbins
PS. If you’re not at your goal weight & need support to get there, this group is what you need.
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