Have you ever struggled with emotional eating? Many dieters have at some point in their lives. However, if you find yourself repeatedly falling victim to this behaviour, it’s time to find solutions. Food is meant to be enjoyed, but for many people, it can become a coping mechanism for uncomfortable feelings. So, today we will discuss some of the most common triggers and solutions.
What is emotional eating?
Emotional eating is a common issue many people face. It occurs when we eat for comfort after experiencing undesirable emotions such as stress, anxiety, boredom, or loneliness. Emotional eaters usually turn to food after stressful situations because they lack coping mechanisms and struggle to find healthy solutions to such problems. So, if your goal is losing weight and you struggle with emotional eating, you may want to look into it, as it can contribute to weight gain.
Emotional eating triggers
According to researchers, there are two main reasons why people eat emotionally. The first is feelings of increased tension, such as boredom or sadness. This leads to the second reason: stress relief. People eat mindlessly when feeling overwhelmed. The main reason why the latter occurs is due to our hormones. As you know, if you listened to my podcast, our hormones dictate our feelings, behaviour, and hunger cues.
The scientific literature has shown that the hunger hormone, Ghrelin stimulates hunger, while others, such as Leptin, make us feel satiated. Similarly, most sugar cravings occur after a blood sugar imbalance. When we eat sugar, blood sugar spikes, and we release insulin. Naturally, we begin to crave sweet foods to raise our energy levels.
Stress hormones also play a huge role in our cravings and hunger cues. The stress hormone, Cortisol stimulates insulin release to maintain stable blood sugar levels, leading to an increase in appetite and sweet cravings.
Strategies to overcome emotional eating
Luckily there are many things we can do to counteract emotional eating. Here are my top tips:
Know your triggers
Ideally, we could prevent situations that trigger emotional eating. Still, sometimes we’re unaware of these. So, take some time to reflect on what causes you to overeat. Ask yourself: Do you eat to comfort yourself or when you are alone? Write down your responses and come up with an IF/THEN plan.
Drink more water
Our bodies confuse thirst with hunger. Water can help decrease cravings and hunger cues while increasing feelings of fullness.
Eat healthy fats
Studies show that Omega-3’s help control insulin levels, preventing sugar crashes and sugar cravings. Besides, research confirms that fats are essential for regulating our hormones, especially when they are imbalanced.
Try Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is a great tool to control eating habits and improve eating behaviours. Some easy changes you can implement are eating more slowly and removing distractions while eating. Being more present will allow you to better listen to your body and stop when you’re satisfied.
To wrap things up
Emotional eating is a common problem in modern society. It can negatively affect your overall health and mental health, so it is crucial to find healthy ways to cope with your emotions. And, with the right tools, coaching, and mindset, you can do it.