Take a look at this scenario – the kids have been driving you up the wall all day, the phone bill just arrived, the Internet is down, and you haven’t gotten anything in for dinner.
What happens next?
You utter a few swear words under your breath, march to the kitchen cupboard, and proceed to start grazing on chocolate Hob Nobs.
Does this sound familiar?
If it does, you’re definitely not alone!
In fact, emotions and the psychology of eating are some the least understood and most commonly neglected factors in getting into shape and improving our health.
So what can we do to prevent emotional eating?
In this article we’re going to take a look at five tips you can incorporate into your life to stop the naughty nibbles, secret scoffing, and graceless grazing, so hold tight, and don’t reach for the jam doughnuts just yet!
Identify Your Triggers
Begin by taking some time to figure out what exactly the triggers are which set you off on a one-way trip to Pig Out City.
It might be something as simple as having had a bad day at work and using that as a justification to come home and order a pizza. On the other hand, perhaps you’re not happy in your relationship or there are familial issues stressing you out and causing you to neglect certain areas of your life.
Whatever your triggers are, try writing them down and then rereading the list; this will give you a tangible reference which you can use to catch yourself in the act and ask yourself “Am I doing this because I really want to?”
We’ve you find yourself sitting in front of the TV in the evening and your cravings start to creep up on you, and before you know it, the cookies in the kitchen are gently calling out for you to come and demolish them!
Either when this happens – or, even better – before this happens, distract yourself by engaging in activities you enjoy; this could be playing your favorite video game, going for a walk and getting some exercise, or simply calling up a friend for a chat.
If you need to, call a friend or relative and tell them how you’re feeling, and you’ll often find that the whole situation will very quickly start to seem ridiculous and you can laugh the whole thing off and move on with your day.
Don’t Buy It
The simplest and most effective way of beating emotional eating is to simply not buy the foods which you crave – if that tub of ice cream wasn’t sitting in the freezer right now, do you really think you’d bother going out at 9pm just to buy some because of a random craving? Highly unlikely!
Simply put, you can’t eat what you don’t have, so go to your kitchen right now and round up all the junk food items, then either give them away or throw them away to make sure they don’t end up in your belly!
Another incredibly powerful way of managing your emotional eating habits is to stock up on healthy food items for meals and snacks. Carrots, celery, nuts and nut butters, and berries are all fantastic foods which can be used to curb your cravings.
How about this – next time you’re craving chocolate, buy some 90% dark chocolate and just eat a few pieces; a brand like Lindt is so rich in the substances like chocamine and theobromine which release the ‘happy chemicals’ in your brain that you only need a small amount to feel satisfied.
Last but by no means least, try to catch yourself in the moment when you go to indulge in your cravings.
This is probably the most difficult piece of advice to follow because it means trying to remain mindful when you’re in the thick of a stressful situation, but if you can overcome this hurdle and say a solid ‘No!’ when the urge strikes, you can rest assured that the battle is almost won.
There are many you can apply to enhance your mindfulness including meditation and relaxation techniques, but – and this may sound silly – you can also boost your awareness in the moment by writing reminders on Post-It notes and leaving them on the fridge or cupboard doors.
You might even like to try writing a note on your hand or tying a small piece of string around your finger; these may sound like old-fashioned, out dated methods but anything that serves as a reminder of the motivation and enthusiasm you feel right now will help you to catch yourself and resist the temptation to pig out.