Changing your habits won’t happen overnight, but you can get emotional eating under control if you identify the actual problem, come up with real solutions and learn to comfort, reward and celebrate in ways rather than eating....
by Connie Peters
If you’re depressed, exhausted or bored, you tend to eat more. If you’re lonely, worried or sad, you tend to eat more. And if you want to reward yourself or celebrate, you tend to eat more. Almost everyone has the tendency to let their emotions guide their eating patterns.
Almost everyone likes comfort during tough times or to reward themselves for working hard. The most convenient, easiest and enjoyable way is to eat. Of course, your comfort and pleasure only lasts a few moments. Pounds could add up, leaving you to feel guilty and depressed, which could cause you to turn to food for comfort and eat more; it's a vicious cycle that could leave you feeling trapped. Food offers no solutions for your actual problems. In fact, food could even magnify your problems. Your “rewards” and “celebrations” become detrimental, so what do you do?
First, be aware. Recognize the times you’re eating in response to your emotions, rather than physical hunger.
Sometimes busy people eat when they’re tired because they feel like they’re accomplishing something. Allow yourself time to rest without eating. Or exercise to give yourself a spurt of energy.
Bored? Get out of the house or read a good book. Lonely? Call a friend. Worried? Pray, meditate or get counsel. Depressed? Divide your time among your vices. Instead of overeating, limit yourself to just one cookie, and get out of the house if you can. Taking on varied activities will keep you distracted from your negative thinking and cause minimal damage. When you’re in a better mood, examine why you were depressed. Combat it with practical solutions, positive thinking or, if needed, a trip to your doctor.
Don’t get down on yourself when you fail, but recognize why you gave into emotional eating and devise a better plan for next time. And if you must munch, choose nuts, fruits and vegetables over the rich food you crave. Reprogram your mind to associate nutritional food with pleasant thoughts.
Changing your habits won’t happen overnight, but you can get emotional eating under control if you identify the actual problem, come up with real solutions and learn to comfort, reward and celebrate in ways rather than eating.
Connie Peters has 27 years of writing experience. She and her husband live in Southwest Colorado, have two children, and host two adults with developmental disabilities.