When you are feeling stressed out, overwhelmed or anxious, it is very easy to eat emotionally, or to eat for comfort. How can you tell if you are emotionally eating?
Eat just to eat – when you find yourself eating when you are not physically hungry, but eat anyway.
Nothing tastes good – when you eat and nothing is satisfying. You keep eating to fill the void and never find yourself full.
Cravings! – whenever you are feeling anxious, you find yourself seeking out specific foods (I know for me it’s chocolate).
Mindless eating – when you eat and aren’t even paying attention, like when you grab a snack to eat when you are sitting in front of the TV.
How can you stop this cycle?
Start by keeping a food journal. At the end of each day for the next week, jot down what you eat, when you eat and then why are you eating. When you eat, check in with yourself and ask these questions:
Mind: Am I tasting each bite or am I zoned out when I eat?
Body: How does my body feel before and after I eat? Low energy? Stomach rumbling? Full? Empty?
Feeling: What do I feel about this food? Guilty? Pleasure? Joy? Disappointment? Regret? Indifferent?
Thoughts: What thoughts does this food bring to mind? Memories? Beliefs? Myths? Fears?
After journaling for a week, look back and identify patterns. If you realize you are emotionally eating, write down a list of quick activities you can do when those situations arise. Select some activities that don’t include eating or drinking that will shift your mood. These activities can distract you from going to food while still giving you a pick-me-up.
List out hobbies you enjoy – take a walk outside, play with a pet or call a friend. Better yet go into a room alone and dance your heart out. No one will see and you’ll be surprised how good you feel afterward.
Look on the bright side – I like to take a moment and make a list of 3 things that are NOT wrong today. When we are down, we can end up in a spiral of negative thoughts. It helps put anxious situations in perspective when we can have gratitude for the things in our lives that ARE going well.
In the thick of an anxious moment, it can be hard to put these practices in place. Take time a couple of moments each day to add in these replacement techniques when you are feeling strong and are not emotionally eating so that it becomes second nature. Then when your anxiety level increases, you have these tools in place and can avoid reaching for the comfort foods.
For more information on breaking free from everyday anxiety, click below to apply for an anxiety coaching consultation.
Sources:Huffingtonpost.com, Lourdes Wellness Services, Food and Mood Seminar, HelpGuide.org