I will admit…I am an emotional eater. When I am bored I eat, when I am sad I eat, when I am happy I eat, when I am celebrating I eat. I feel like society encourages emotional eating no matter what your size. Think about it – every holiday we have has certain foods associated with it, every time something bad happens we give food to make people feel better (think casseroles, cakes, etc.) or when you break up with your boyfriend/girlfriend you go for the ice cream. The idea of food making us feel better has been ingrained in our brains from the beginning.
Emotional eating was a big hurdle for me when I started Ideal Protein. While you still eat a lot of food while on the plan that salad doesn’t exactly make you feel the same as mac and cheese or pizza. I quickly learned that I had to find other things that would make me feel better instead of food. By finding these alternative activities not only did I curb my emotional eating, but I also was able to make myself healthier and interact more with those around me.
Here are the things I do instead of emotional eating:
1. Working out – I enjoy group exercise. There is a great sense of camaraderie and it’s fun, plus it holds me accountable when I workout with a friend. If I am working out by myself (which is usually in the form of a walk) I make sure to listen to my favorite music or my current audio book. That way it almost feels relaxing. Plus, no matter what type of workout, you get a boost of those feel-good hormones – endorphins – that are bound to put you in a better mind space.
2. Asking myself, are you actually hungry? – This one was hard for me to grasp. But, there is a definite difference between being truly hungry and eating just to eat. Over time, I learned to pause for 10-20 seconds before eating something. I ask myself two things
1) Is it time to eat? (like breakfast, lunch, or dinner)
2) Am I actually hungry or is out of boredom? (being bored is my #1 trigger).
If it’s time to eat, then I do. If I am actually hungry – for instance stomach grumbling, I have a headache, or I feel my blood sugar dropping, then I do. If I can’t confirm these two questions I drink a large glass of water and check again in an hour. Usually, after the hour I find that I really wasn’t hungry in the first place.
3. Helping out in my community – I enjoy volunteering in my community and I find that keeping myself busy helps me to not think about eating – basically I am not bored so I don’t eat. Currently, I lead the volunteer committee at work, play clarinet in a few local bands, sing in my alma mater’s choir, help with the Boys and Girls Club, and support STEM education.
4. Spending time with friends and family – My closest friends and family know that I am trying to be healthier. So, when we spend time together I feel like they are holding me accountable. Even if they don’t say anything, I know they are supporting me. Spending time with them reminds me why I want to be healthier – I want to be healthier mainly for myself, but also because of them. I want to be around for a long time and be able to go on awesome adventures with everyone!
I hope this help you rethink emotional eating. It’s certainly not our faults we emotionally eat it’s more about culture and circumstance. However, if we are conscious of our emotional eating there are steps we can take to stop.
Do you any other ways you think about emotional eating? Any tips and tricks to avoid it?