Emotional eating can be overcome, but it will require mindfulness. This is an issue that boils down to one’s habits and patterns.
If you remove the causes and break the pattern, emotional eating will become a thing of the past.
1. Write it down
What most people fail to realize is that human beings are creatures of habit. If you eat whenever you’re sad or bored, over time, this will become a habit without you even realizing it.
The best way to hold yourself accountable will be to start a food journal and write down what you eat, when you’re eating and how you feel when you’re eating. Are you hungry or just mindlessly eating because you’re bored or sad?
2. Spot patterns
Now that you have a journal, you’ll be able to spot patterns and trends in your behavior. You may discover that you tend to binge eat at night around 1 am when you’re up late watching TV.
The best way to break this pattern will be to go to bed earlier so that you’re fast asleep and won’t be seeking solace under the pale glow of the refrigerator light in the middle of the night.
See when you’re engaged in emotional eating and look at the triggers causing it. Now, eliminate those triggers and you’ll be that much closer to ending emotional eating.
3. Eliminate addictive foods/drinks
Another way to prevent yourself from emotional eating will be to clean up your diet. Sugar is highly addictive, and so are processed foods. Very often, not only will you be battling your emotional demons, but you’ll also be battling cravings and addictions.
By eating clean, you’ll wean yourself off sugar and crave it less. This will make it easier to avoid eating when you’re not hungry. You’ll not be hooked on sugar ‘highs’ and constantly need junk food to emotionally prop you up.
4. Distinguish emotional hunger from real hunger
Another useful way to curb emotional eating will be to differentiate emotional hunger from real hunger. Real hunger doesn’t materialize suddenly, unlike emotional hunger.
You’ll not suddenly crave for ice cream or sodas when you’re really hungry. This is a sign of emotional hunger when you need some ‘comfort food’ to make you feel better.
Do not give in to the temptations. Instead, engage in some other activity that doesn’t involve food.
5. Intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a fantastic method of reigning in emotional eating. With IF, you’ll have an eating window and a fasting window.
An example of intermittent fasting is being able to only eat during a 6-hour window, from 2pm to 8pm. After 8pm, you’ll only be able to start eating the next day after 2pm. By doing this, you’ll eliminate the option of being able to eat anytime you want.
The fasting window, which will be around 18 hours long, only allows for water consumption. So you can’t eat the usual sugary foods that you’re used to nibbling on.
This takes thinking out of the equation. All you need to do is follow the intermittent fasting protocol and your meals will be dictated by the time, rather than your emotions.
Use these techniques to understand why you’re emotionally eating and end this detrimental habit once and for all.