Have you ever felt so lonely that it made you grab that tub of ice cream on the refrigerator and eat it while your tears were flowing? Or have you ever felt so overjoyed that you ate a lot while laughing and talking to others about your exciting experience? Yes, we all love to eat no matter what the circumstance is. Food is a basic necessity in life. Even when we are not too emotional, we eat because it is a way of life.
Everyone knows that we eat to get nourishment and to stay healthy. But too much eating can put on excess body weight, which could lead to being unhealthy. Becoming overweight can be stressful. I know, I’ve been there. I was naturally slim but as I age, my metabolism becomes slower, thus, gaining those extra pounds on the scale. But I was able to overcome that. I won’t write here about how I lost weight but I’d like to focus on emotional eating. One of my online friends inspired me to write this. She broke up with her boyfriend, was able to move on, but is now getting emotional again. Oh well…
We all have great and terrible days. Now, some people eat a lot whenever they feel emotional or stressed out. I don’t know the reason but eating can make us feel better. But the fact still stands that if you eat excessively, you will put on extra weight, which is not easy to lose. So, what triggers us to become an emotional eater? Try to ask these questions to yourself:
-Have you recently experienced a painful break up or loss of a loved one?
-Have you been feeling stressed out at work?
-Has there been any unresolved family or personal matters that’s been bothering you?
If you answer “yes” to any of the questions above, chances are you might be an emotional eater. Assess yourself – do you eat even when you’re not hungry? I was an emotional eater. During those times, when anxiety attacks, I turn to my “comfort foods” such as ice cream, chocolates, cakes, doughnuts, and other sweet treats. Until I realized that I had already gained too much weight and that my clothes won’t fit anymore. It’s not just all about staying fit and maintaining the body I want. It’s all about staying healthy. So, let me share how I was able to overcome being an emotional eater:
I accepted the fact that I eat a lot whenever I feel stressed out or emotional. I believe this is first step in overcoming emotional eating. When you have already accepted that fact, then it would be easier for you to pause and think first whenever you feel the urge to bite that big slice of pizza just because you get disappointed or things didn’t go your way.
“Am I really hungry?”
This is something you should ask yourself before reaching for that tub of ice cream or before you bite that big chocolate bar. I read somewhere on the Internet (sorry, I forgot where I got this information) that whenever you “think” you are hungry, drink a glass of water first because thirst may be confused with hunger. The same thing can be applied to compulsive eating. Whenever you feel anxious, drink a glass of water first. Then think and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” before eating.
This is one habit I made myself develop and I was so proud the first time I had avoided compulsive eating. That time, I had a rough night at work (I used to work at nights) and when I got home in the morning, I was almost tempted to order a burger from a fast food delivery but I changed my mind. Instead, I changed my clothes and wore my running shoes. I jogged and circled the neighborhood. I felt amazed because for the first time, I had noticed the color of my neighbors’ houses, the lady with 5 cats, and the happy children walking their way to school. It was like I had just moved in but I have been living in the same neighborhood for more than 5 years now. After a healthy sweat, I went home, took a quick shower, had breakfast (a healthy one without burger and doughnuts), and felt happy. And yes, I did not overeat.
Divert your attention
What if you suddenly felt nervous, excited, or temperamental? You may focus your attention to other things. What I do is I write it on a piece of paper, or to my diary (yeah, I still keep a diary.) Or you can listen to good music or watch a good show – just avoid reaching out for a pop corn. Or if it is possible and safe for you to do so, you may go out for a walk. Just walk calmly and breathe. Do something that could focus your attention to something else aside from eating – except of course, when you are REALLY hungry.
I never stayed away from ice cream, doughnuts, cakes, chocolates, and other sweet stuff I love. Overcoming compulsive eating doesn’t mean you have to let go of the things you like (at least, that’s what I think). What I do is I eat those rarely and I just eat them to reward myself. Like the time when I was able to finish all my DIY wedding invitations, I felt happy and thought I deserved a reward. So I had three scoops of my favorite ice cream. Yes, I still had ice cream but I didn’t consume the whole tub. I had three scoops because I believe I deserved it. And that was all.
Overcoming emotional eating is not an easy task. In some cases, you might need to seek professional advice to help you improve your well being through unwinding procedures, honing your critical thinking abilities, and controlling your emotions. Seek professional help and get your family involved too.