If you have a tendency to reach for the cookie jar during moments of high stress then these expert tips to avoid emotional eating are for you
We all do it. Eat when we’re stressed. When we’re happy. Or when we’re upset. But if emotional eating is an issue for you and you can’t quite figure out or control your triggers, then these top seven nutritional tips are for you.
Keep a diary
It may seen a little odd, but keeping a note of when you eat and why will help you see long term patterns. Do you eat after a stressful work meeting or do you get over-whelmed and find yourself unable to deal with meal prepping. Much like how experts advise you to deal with your finances, dealing with your diet comes down to tackling patterns and reordering thinking. So, once you notice a habit make a note and the next time you head for the kitchen ask yourself why you’re really eating.
When Rebecca Scritchfield, RD, author of Body Kindness, is feeling emotionally driven hunger start to kick in, she checks in to see if this is a time of day when she usually has cravings. If it is, she makes sure she eats something that will satisfy her instead of going for the first thing she can reach. This way she can think more intuitively about her “typical needs and preferences,” she says.
Try to make a plan
If you have your lunches and dinner organised for the week, it becomes harder for you to give in to those emotional urges. Think about it. You’re stressed in work, your first thought is to reach for the chocolate or the bread, but you already have lunch with you so instead you stick to your plan. We’re not saying it will be easy, but it is a little head start you can give yourself.
Ask yourself the hard question
Some nutritionists call this the brain-to-belly scan, but in a nutshell it means you stop what you’re doing and pay attention to what you’re feeling. Are you actually hungry or do you want to eat to self soothe? This is going to take some practice for you to figure out what’s actual hunger or thirst and what’s an emotional reaction to something that’s happened to you. However, when you finally manage to make the connections, this brain-to-belly scan is the first step towards intuitive eating.
Take a minute
Take a breath. Leave your desk. Leave the room. Go for a walk or even just go to the bathroom. You’ll be surprised at how by not giving in to immediate temptations you’re body will self regulate.
Keep your mouth busy
Sometimes, even after talking a minute, the urge to stress eat might still be there. So, instead of turning to your go-to stress snack right away, nutritionists suggest chewing some gum or drinking tea to hold you over. Sometimes all it takes to get your brain off of food (and back to what matters) is the sensation of putting something in your mouth to satisfy and calm the mind a little.
Don’t skimp on water or sleep
Basically because being well rested and hydrated is key for dealing with most life issues.