In a perfect world, we would only eat when we needed to, and only an amount appropriate for our grumbling bellies. Unfortunately, hunger isn’t the only sensation that can make us want to eat. Many people are beset by a habit called emotional eating, which can add countless calories to your diet as you use food to cope with your feelings.
Though it’s a common problem, emotional eating doesn’t have to ruin the progress you’re making with your diet and weight loss program. By taking steps now to recognize emotional eating and minimize its impact on your life, you can turn this into another bad habit left behind in the wake of your healthy new lifestyle.
Identifying Emotional Hunger
Emotional hunger and physical hunger feel similar, but are not alike. To put an end to emotional eating, it helps to take note of how emotional hunger typically behaves. You will likely crave specific foods, especially favorite comfort foods you’re trying to avoid. These cravings can strike you suddenly and demand quick gratification, but will usually only make you guilty, especially if you eat far past the point of fullness.
When you feel a desire to eat, ask yourself if you’re truly hungry, especially if it isn’t time for a meal. If your urge seems to fit the description above, emotional hunger may be behind it, so it will help to take a closer look by:
- Considering the cause. As the name suggests, emotional eating stems from our feelings, but the trigger may not always be obvious. Though depression, loneliness, stress and anger are common causes, you may also feel emotional hunger while celebrating, or when simply bored during a slow day. Every time you suspect that you might be emotionally hungry, consider what you’re feeling and the factors that led to your emotions. Help yourself see patterns by writing down your findings in a journal.
- Searching for a solution. Regardless of how you feel, overeating is a poor way to cope. You can address emotional eating in a far more productive fashion by finding a way to alleviate your emotions without food. Exercise can be a wonderful way to diminish the effects of stress, sadness, boredom and anger, and will help with your weight loss program as an added bonus. You can also try calling a family member or close friend, or going for a walk to clear your head. Plan out ways to deal with the emotions that most frequently cause your emotional hunger and put them into action when the need arises.
Though emotional eating can be a frustrating problem, you have the power to control it. Like any other bad habit, emotional eating is something you can leave behind you during medical weight loss in Columbus.