How to Stop Emotional Eating?
- Be Aware
Most of emotional eating is so unconscious that it happens automatically or below your awareness. Before you jump into changing this behavior, keep a journal. Write down where and when you stress eat. At school? Late at night? When you are alone? Are there any patterns that you notice? Every time you eat, ask yourself how physically hungry you are on a scale from 1-10. If you are a 6-10, it’s likely that you are physically hungry. A 3, for example, would signify that you are stress eating.
- Eat this, not that
When you’re itching for a sugar fix, try reaching for a mandarin orange. At around 50 calories, a mandarin orange will not only satisfy your sweet tooth, it’ll give you something to do. Dr. Susan Albers says peeling the orange and smelling the citrusy scent creates a “meditative moment” to help calm you. The fruit is also rich in vitamin C, which your body needs to strengthen its immunity in times of stress.
- Get cracking
If you prefer the satisfaction of a crunchy treat, consider pistachios as a healthy alternative to salty, greasy chips. One of the lowest calorie nuts, pistachios, are packed with healthy fats, fiber, and help regulate blood sugar. This way, you won’t experience the painful sugar spike and drop as you would with something sweet and fatty. Just make sure you buy them in the shell.
- See red
Albers says that red cues send a strong message to our brain. Stop. Try eating with a red plate or put a red sign on your fridge. If that’s not enough to stop you from stress eating, it will at least make you more aware of your bad habit.
- Lend yourself a hand, the wrong hand
If you’re right-handed, try eating with your left hand, and vice-versa. Using your non-dominant hand will slow you down and make you more mindful of your food — a central part of any healthy eating plan. Albers says that this is one of the easiest and most effective tricks.
- Calm things down
When we’re in a stressful situation, our levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, rises, which can cause weight gain. The key is to reduce cortisol, Albers advices to have a glass of black tea, which has been shown to reduce cortisol. Take a minute to do some deep breathing exercises. Unplug your phone or close out your email and stop multitasking for a moment. All of these will help get your cortisol levels back down to normal.
- Above all, the key is mindfulness, Albers stresses. “Be aware if you’re falling into the trap of soothing and comforting yourself with food that is one of the issues that’s leading to your weight gain. For many of my clients, if they can target eliminating stress eating, they can lose weight and feel better. It’s a powerful thing for people to tackle,” Albers says.